To show his support for PDP-Laban candidates, President Rodrigo Duterte says that he will bring sackfuls of cash as the campaign season rolls around.

Even at the risk of stating the obvious, Duterte is disregarding election rules and perpetrating election fraud. Only enablers of tyranny and impunity would dismiss Duterte’s recent statement as a mere joke.

The President should be reminded that this constitutes vote-buying. He should be aware that his action may also be interpreted as misappropriation of taxpayers’ money. He is, after all, promising funds to his allies. Lest we forget, he is doing so as the highest official of the land, clearly a conflict of interest as elected official and de facto campaign financier.

While there is nothing that prevents certain officials from endorsing and campaigning for preferred candidates, they should all be prudent enough not to abuse and misuse government resources. In addition, they should not be remiss in fulfilling official tasks when the campaign season starts.

In the case of Duterte, he seems to have more time right now appearing before political allies instead of appearing before the people he vowed to serve. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the already marginalized and underrepresented, he should focus on concerns other than politicking.

In collectively denouncing Duterte’s shameless arrogance, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) should officially call out the President for circumventing election rules. This is an excellent time for the COMELEC to prove its quasi-judicial independence from Malacañan Palace, even if all but one of the commissioners happen to be Duterte appointees.

For verification, please contact Danilo Arao, convenor of Kontra Daya.

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