HS teacher charged for vote-buying in 2007 SK polls
posted 15-Oct-2014  ·  
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A high school teacher in Baras town has been charged by the Commission on Elections for allegedly buying votes for her son then running in the Sangguniang Kabataan elections in 2007.

The COMELEC Law Department filed two counts of vote-buying  against Solita Tusi, 40, before the Regional Trial Court recently on the basis of an en banc resolution promulgated by the Commission in December 2013. Bail has been set at P12,000 for each case, or a total of P24,000.

Prior to the Commission’s decision, Provincial Elections Supervisor Atty. Ma. Aurea Bo-Bunao, acting as investigating officer, had found probable cause against Tusi after two witnesses positively identified her as the one who gave them envelopes that each contained P500 with a stapled election leaflet.

According to complainant Rosario Camu, her son and that of Tusi were vying for the position of SK chairman during the Oct. 29, 2007 SK elections. She averred that at 2:30 P.M. that day while watching the conduct of the elections together with her husband at Agban Central Elementary School, she saw Tusi, then a teacher assigned at Agban National High School, giving envelopes to a certain Nelia Estrada.

Each envelope allegedly contained a P500 bill and a leaftlet bearing the words “Vote Rollens (Nonoy) Tusi for SK Chairman.” Camu claimed her husband tried to grab the envelopes from Estrada when the latter tried to hand them over to one Jollie Tañote, a registered SK voter, but Tusi was able to get hold of the envelopes and pocketed them.

To support her allegations, Camu submitted a joint affidavit executed by SK voters Mark Anthony Guerrero and Jenmark Tolbe.

In her counter-affidavit, Tusi denied the allegations against her and claimed there is no truth to the statement of Guerrero and Tolbe, attaching affidavits executed by Tañote and Estrada.

During the preliminary investigation, Guerrero admitted that he received an envelope containing the cash and leaftlet from Tusi at 9 A.M. that day, and turned over the envelope to Atty. Bo-Bunao. Another witness for the complainant, Larry Tarroza, also produced a similar envelope which he said was given to him at the house of Tusi.

In its decision, the COMELEC en banc headed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. stressed that under the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Section 261(a), any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value in order to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate shall be guilty of vote buying.

It stated that the testimonies of witnesses Guerrero and Tarroza, who identified the respondent as the one who have them envelopes containing money, were never controverted by Tusi. “Her claims that the witnesses were lying were not enough to refute the statements of the witnesses,” the Commission emphasized.

If found guilty, Tusi would face imprisonment of not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, she would be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. A DepEd teacher since 1999, Tusi is reportedly married to a nephew of Baras ex-officio councilor Chito Chi, who was vice mayor at the time the alleged vote-buying incident occurred.

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