MANILA, Philippines --- How much does a candidate for governor need to pay in order to be assured of a win in the May 2013 polls?
According to an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), it's P20 million.
For city mayor, it's P70 million.
At least this is the information that CBCP chairman Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo heard from different sources.
"They said there are operators going around the provinces asking for P20 million in order for one to win as governor," he said in an interview.
The prelate, however, is clueless on the amount being offered to those running for national positions such as senator and congressman.
"I don't know about the senators, but I assume it's much bigger," said Pabillo.
The CBCP official said in other areas the amount even depends on the highest bidder.
"Whoever made the highest bid will probably win," Pabillo said.
Asked if he already raised the issue to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), he answered negatively.
"I raised it to my fellow bishops. I told them that I heard of such things," said Pabillo.
"The problem is you cannot verify it. Even if you say something it might just be denied since you don't have proof. It's not as if you have signed something it's just word of mouth, which can easily be denied," he added.
Pabillo said such kind of information is the reason they urged the poll body to address the deficiencies in the automated election system to avert the possibility of wholesale cheating in the May, 2013 polls.
If before, he said, candidates resort to vote-buying now they only need to pay whoever knows the technology in order to win.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, meantime, said that they are open to investigating such claims on cheating.
"We are open in investigating these things but give us a little more (information)," he said.
"We are very thankful with information like this, but we are doubly thankful if the information like this is actionable. Actionable meaning we at least have an idea as to who to talk to etc. - if we are given such information even in confidence you can be sure that we will go after them," added Jimenez. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)