Village council bet in Sarangani faces poll violation raps

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 October) — Police and election personnel are set to file vote-buying and illegal campaigning charges against a candidate for village council in Alabel town in Sarangani who was arrested while allegedly distributing campaign leaflets and some money on Sunday night.

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Chief Insp. Reynaldo Denila, Alabel municipal police station chief, identified the suspect as Reynan Mesa, who is running for councilor of Barangay Kawas in Alabel.

He said Mesa, who is currently detained at the Alabel police station, was caught by police and Commission on Election (Comelec) personnel in the act of distributing money and campaign materials at 7:35 p.m. Sunday in Purok 5 of Barangay Kawas.

Recovered from the suspect were several of his campaign leaflets and around P1,800 in cash, he said.

“According to some residents, the suspect gave them P100 to P200 in cash along with his leaflets,” Denila said.

The official said they got wind of Mesa’s illegal activities after being tipped off by local residents early Sunday evening.

He said they immediately reported the matter to the Comelec provincial office, which ordered the rounding up of the candidate.

Denila said the suspect will be charged with vote-buying as provided under the Omnibus Election Code and violation of the campaign regulation for the barangay elections.

Based on Comelec rules governing the barangay polls, the campaign period already ended on midnight Saturday and any violation of such provision constitutes an election offense.

The police official said candidates who would be caught violating such rule may face disqualification and even jail terms.

Also in Alabel, government anti-drug operatives arrested on Monday two alleged illegal drug pushers in a buy-bust operation at a polling center in the town.

Senior Supt. Edwin Minion, Sarangani police director, identified the suspects as Randy Orsal and Benjamin Lacaba, who were reportedly included in the drug watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12 and the Sarangani Provincial Police Office.

He said the two were arrested after allegedly selling metamphetamine hydrocloride or shabu to an undercover PDEA agent at the vicinity of the Alabel Central Elementary School at around 10:30 a.m.

A search on the two suspects yielded a large sachet of shabu reportedly weighing around five grams and 12 other small sachets weighing two grams, he said.

“Our operatives have been watching the activities of these suspects in the last four days and they finally had the chance to get them this morning,” Minion said in a radio interview.

He said their investigators are now preparing the charges against the suspects for violation of Section 5 of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Section 5 of RA 9165 refers to the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs.”

The official said it was just a coincidence that the operation, which was conducted by joint elements from PDEA 12, Alabel municipal police station and Sarangani provincial police public safety company, happened on election day.

Orsal is a son of a candidate for barangay chair in the area.

Minion said he had instructed local police units to continue with their regular operations and campaigns even with Monday’s scheduled barangay elections.

Last week, a government employee in Maitum town in Sarangani was also arrested in a drug buy-bust operation in the area. (MindaNews)