By Junex Doronio

ANTICIPATING THE LEVELLING UP of vote buying in the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has alerted electronic wallet operators to monitor ‘suspicious” high-volume transactions, especially in the days prior to election day.

At the same time, Comelec Chairman George Garcia sternly warned GCash, Maya and other companies involved in mobile payment services that they may face charges for conspiracy to commit vote buying.

“Doon sa mga panibagong pamamaraan ng vote buying, tulad ng by way of GCash or online banking, kasama po namin sa Committee on Kontra Bigay ay Anti-Money Laundering Council at Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” Comelec Commissioner Ernesto Maceda Jr. earlier said in a press briefing.

He also disclosed that the Comelec is already finalizing its rules and regulations on the penalties for vote buying for the BSKE in October, which will now cover online money transfers.

The Omnibus Election Code penalizes vote buying or selling with up to six years of imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and prohibition from exercising the right to vote.

Any political party found guilty of engaging in such acts shall pay a fine of not less than ₱10,000.

Considering that Omnibus Election Code was approved in 1985 and does not cover modern schemes of bribing during elections, the Comelec sees the need to also level up the law. (ai/mnm)