PRO-6 records first arrest on vote-buying

By Jennifer P. Rendon and Glazyl Y. Masculino

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 reported that it has recorded a case of vote-buying incident.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Solis, PRO-6 spokesperson, said it happened along Sitio Mague, Barangay Tibsoc, San Enrique, Negros Occidental around 11:20 p.m. of May 8, 2022.

The suspects were identified as Dindo Tolosa, 56, a construction worker and a resident of Vagallon St, Sitio Panalsalan, Barangay Poblacion, San Enrique town and his minor companion.

Police accounts claimed that Barangay Kagawad Juno Benitez and a barangay tanod of Tibsoc village in San Enrique were conducting roving patrol when they spotted a tricycle in the area.

They flagged down the tricycle and asked Tolosa where they were heading to.

The older suspect allegedly claimed they have something to give to a resident but did not name the recipient.

This allegedly prompted Benitez to check the “parcel.” It contained a white envelope with the name of a party list group.

The envelope also has a shaded sample ballot, cash amounting to P2,100 in different denominations, party-list leaflets, and a mobile phone.

Benitez is now in the custody of San Enrique Municipal Police Station while his minor companion was turned over to the Women and Children’s Desk.

Meanwhile, Tolosa’s daughter denied the allegations against her father. In a Facebook post, the daughter said that her father just took a favor to bring diapers to the wife of her cousin in the said village.

The daughter said that her father did not know that there was money in the envelope.

“Wala nagbakal boto papa ko,” the daughter said, adding that there was no strong evidence on the said accusations.

Solis said the suspects would be charged for violation of Sec. 261 of the Omnibus Election Code.

It prohibits “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”

The said provision also makes it illegal for “any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.”