By: Alexis Romero
The Philippine Star, Wednesday, June 2, 2010
MANILA, Philippines - The Marine Corps revealed yesterday
that some groups tried to bribe its troops who were
assigned to secure the recent elections in Sulu.
In a statement, Marines spokesman Capt. Alden Gwyn
Amargo said bribery attempts were reported in the
areas of Kaumpang, Maligay and Baunoh Bangkal.
Amargo said Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho
Sabban ordered that Marines who performed poll
security duties in Sulu be honored after learning
that they refused the bribe offers.
Amargo said awards will also be given to other
Marines deployed in other precincts “who steadfastly
performed exemplary election security duties and
vehemently refused any attempt of bribery to prevent
the ill intents of some political personalities.”
Sabban said they were conducting interviews to
verify other reports of bribery attempts.
“We want to determine how widespread these instances
are. I am sure there are many instances
(of bribery attempts)… The presence of the Marines
deterred election anomalies such as these,” he said.
Amargo said the Marine Battalion Landing Team 5
reported that there were numerous instances when
campaign leaders tried to bribe its men deployed
at the Kaumpang Elementary School.
Pfc. Rhomel Divina, who was assigned to secure
a polling precinct in Maligay, said a campaign
leader offered him P100,000 for him to leave the
area so the latter and his cohorts could fill
out the remaining ballots for their candidate.
“Your money cannot pay for my services,” Divina
told the campaign leader in Filipino.
Amargo said a campaign leader also attempted to
bribe S/Sgt. William Magpili, who was securing
a polling precinct in Baunoh Bangkal.
Asked if Marines observed cheating in Sulu and
Basilan, Sabban said it would be up to the
Commission on Elections to conduct an investigation.
He, however, maintained that the recent elections
were generally peaceful and orderly.
Before the May 10 elections, Defense Secretary
Norberto Gonzales said there were groups which
would try to rig the poll results by bribing
soldiers and policemen.
He, however, did not identify the politicians
behind these groups.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Delfin Bangit said the
peaceful conduct of the elections restored the
credibility of the military, which had been
tainted by allegations of involvement in poll
fraud and partisanship in the past.