Police nabs 4 people for vote buying in Dipolog

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 9 May) – Police operatives arrested on Wednesday four people at a beach house in Dipolog City owned by Zamboanga del Norte Gov. Rolando Yebes for allegedly facilitating vote buying.

But Yebes vehemently denied that vote-buying happened at his beach house, where his supporters gathered.

Supt. Joven Parcon, Dipolog police chief, identified the suspects as Maila Laput, 34; Carmelita Perez, 48; Cleofe Ogoc, 37; and Maria Pedrita Bayron, 23.

Parcon said the four were arrested 11:35 a.m. at the beach house in Sitio Gampis, Barangay Sicayab.

The raid was carried out by combined forces from the Dipolog City Police Station and policemen from the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) headed by Supt. Reynaldo Maclang.

Confiscated from the suspects’ possession were five sample ballots of provincial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) stapled with different denominations of paper bills amounting to P3,000 each, Parcon said.

A case for vote-buying in violation of the Omnibus Election Code has been filed against the suspects, who attained temporary liberty after paying the recommended bail of P12,000 each, he said.

The governor, who is on his last term of office, is running for representative in the second district of Zamboanga del Norte under the UNA ticket.

In a telephone interview, Yebes claimed that Maclang and his men confiscated sample ballots and cash totalling P3,000, but the sample ballots had no bills stapled on them, contrary to claims by the police.

He said around 150 of his supporters were gathered at the beach house undertaking preparations for Monday’s elections when the policemen led by Maclang raided the place.

“How can the amount of P3,000 be used to buy the votes of 150 supporters gathered at the beach house preparing things for the forthcoming elections? Those people are not stupid enough to sell their votes at P20 each,” Yebes emphasized.

“The raid was a clear frameup,” he declared, accusing Maclang as a henchman of UNA’s political opponents.

He said they will file robbery case against Maclang and his men who allegedly took a television set and other personal belongings from the beach house.

Yebes said they will also file charges for violation of Republic Act 9262, or the anti-violence against women and their children act of 2004 against the raiding policemen for hurting his women supporters.

An amateur video provided to the media by Yebes’s camp showed policemen forcibly dragging a woman out of the beach house.