SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur--- Four of five mayoralty and two of three vice mayoralty bets of this progressive town have committed they will not engage in vote buying in the coming May 13 polls, a welcome development here where it has been known for such electoral malpractices in the past elections.
The local candidates made this vow before local businessmen on Friday night during a forum hosted by Agusan del Sur Chamber of Commerce Industry Foundation, Inc.
Among the mayoralty bets who committed against vote buying were independents John Paredes, Arth Ryan Palabrica, Agusani Ananoria and Floriano Ravelo Jr. and vice mayoralty bets incumbent Mayor Jenny de Asis and former mayor Rey Aquino of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.
Administration mayoralty candidate Solomon Rufila and vice mayoralty bet Bernardino Ursos of Hugpong ng Pagbabago and National Unity Party coalition begged off not to attend the forum because of prior commitment to a political rally in Barangay Lapinigan.
Local politicians standing firm against vote buying is a new twist since many of them were part of the ruling party in the province which have been engaged in massive vote buying spree in the past except in 2016 where they are running unopposed and when President Rodrigo Duterte lost heavily here against administration and Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas.
Paredes, a neophyte politician and son of former governor and congressman Ceferino Paredes Jr., said vote buying even giving away goods and services is illegal under election laws that if candidates are engage in this it would be more likely they will continue doing other illicit deeds when they are already in office.
“Is the salary of a mayor serving for three years enough to buy votes during election,” he asked.
For his part, Palabrica, an incumbent town councilor, said even vote buying in the past elections could just be regarded as offerings to voters, he has no capability to do it because he is just a poor candidate. He however tells voters if there are really irresistible offer they might as well accept it but they should vote according to their conscience.
Ananoria , an incumbent provincial board member, said their local political group with a complete slate have strong commitment against the ills of vote buying and they emphasized this in their speeches during political rallies.
“Politicians engaged in vote buying only look down and do not respect the voters,” Ananaoria said.
Ravelo, a retired police colonel, said aside from being illegal, vote buying is not acceptable in the eyes of God.
Both de Asis and Aquino also stood their ground against the evils of vote buying.
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