Sunday, May 9, 2010

Suspected Vote Buyers Arrested by Army Soldiers in Albay

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, CamSur – Two suspected ‘vote buyers’ were arrested by government forces in a military checkpoint in Albay, a military report said.

Major Harold M Cabunoc, Division Spokesperson, said that soldiers of the 22nd Infantry Battalion manning the CAFGU detachment in Cuyaoyao, Pio Duran, Albay apprehended a certain Saturnino Pesino, 53, and Edgar Caluyo, 47, at around 11:00am yesterday.

Cabunoc said that the soldiers found in the possession of the two suspects sample ballots with stapled money amounting to P1,400.00. The ballots are said to be bearing the name of a certain Jose Ilarde, a Lakas-Kampi bet for municipal councilor in the said municipality.

“Our soldiers were conducting checkpoint operations as part of their task of maintaining an honest and credible elections. The soldiers stopped the two suspects after receiving an urgent phone call from a local resident that the alleged ‘vote buyers’ were heading towards the direction of the checkpoint,” said Cabunoc.

Colonel Leoncio Cirunay, Commander of the 22nd Infantry Battalion said that he has directed his soldiers to turn-over the apprehended suspects and the confiscated items to the police authorities at the Pio Duran Municipal Police Station.

“We are now intensifying our efforts to conduct security patrols and checkpoint operations to prevent election-related violent incidents from happening in our area of responsibility. The presence of alleged ‘vote-buyers’ is always a cause of tensions between the supporters of opposing political candidates so we are also helping our brothers from the PNP to prevent vote-buying,” said Cirunay.

Two days earlier (May 6), Army soldiers also arrested three alleged ‘vote buyers’ in Viga, Catanduanes who had in their possession over P100,000.00 in cash placed in brown envelopes bearing the name of a vice-gubernatorial candidate. The suspects were also brought to the local police station as election-violation cases are filed against them.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division has directed all of his subordinate commanders to protect the votes as mandated. Pabustan said that monitoring centers staffed by military officers are already established in all six provinces of the Bicol Region to ensure that the soldiers can promptly react to any eventualities.

“Our security forces are already in place and they are doing a great job in their respective areas. I therefore encourage all voters to go out and cast their vote tomorrow as scheduled,” said Pabustan.

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