DAVAO CITY—A supporter of House Speaker Prospero Nograles was detained at the Sta. Ana police station for alleged vote buying on the day of the elections.
Antonio Maglonzo, a barangay tanod, said they caught Efren Noval, 59, at around 2 pm, giving “poll assistor’s” identification cards to voters arriving at the Lapu-Lapu Elementary School. The “poll assistor’s” ID bore the name of the Lakas-Kampi political party, signed by House Speaker Prospero Nograles. At the back of the ID card is Noval’s signature as the coordinator and recruiter.
But Noval, a purok leader in Purok 2 in Barangay Lapu-Lapu and a purok coordinator of the Team Nograles, said he was he was only giving “poll assistor’s” ID and not money. As coordinator of Team Nograles, he said he was only recruiting people who would help voters locate their names and precincts.
The barangay police called the legal team of Hugpong and brought Noval to the police station.
According to Lawyer Rafael Dino of Hugpong’s legal team, Noval’s act can be considered vote-buying even if there was no money involved.
“Even if it was just a card, the card could be converted to cash later on,” Dino said. He said the ID card will serve as claim stub for voters for a corresponding amount.
At the police station, the Hugpong team presented a witness who claimed to have received money after agreeing to serve as a poll watcher. Jonelson Vilas, the witness, said he had accepted the ID card which would have entitled him to some P450, but the P200 went to the “runner,” so, he only got the P250.
Noval, who was brought to the police station with two other Team Nograles coordinators, however said it was a frame up. Noval was the only one detained for allegedly “caught-in-the-act” by the barangay tanods.
“This is harassment,” Noval said. “A frame up against us. . (Grace S. Uddin/davaotoday.com)