CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES- Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) federation chair Jessica Resch led a prayer rally in front of the Cebu City Police Office headquarters here today to demand for the release of their fellow SK members who were earlier arrested for alleged vote-buying last Saturday night.
Resch said their action is their show of sympathy for Cogon Ramos SK councilor Kyle Baricuatro, SK Secretary John Paul Mahinay, former SK councilor Anjo Pepito and former SK chair Theoderic Pepito, all four who were arrested by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the Cebu City Police Office inside the Cogon Ramos gym past 11 pm after their inter-Sitio basketball tournament.
Resch said contrary to what the police had claimed, no vote buying has happened but they were framed up as it was just an awarding of cash prizes for the tournament and the distribution of P200 as “jersey (uniform) subsidies” for the participating players.
“It’s not a vote buying, it’s a prize for them and subsidy for their jerseys. We didn’t do anything nga vote buying,” Resch told reporters in an interview.
Resch alleged that about 15-20 SWAT members barged in inside the barangay gym and at gun-point placed flyers of City Councilor Jerry Guardo in the envelopes and made it appear as “vote buying.”
Joseph Gepte, her Vice President, wondered, why the tournament in the nearby Barangay San Antonio was not operated on by the SWAT policemen.
Gepte surmised that it was because of “politics” as the SK chairman of San Antonio, Kirk Moneva and their Barangay Captain Allan Masicampo, is allied with Barug PDP-Laban mayoralty bet Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.
In Cogon Ramos the SK chairman is Engelio David and Barangay Captain Omar Durano, both supporters of reelectionist Mayor Tomas Osmena.
“There is another barangay, San Antonio whose chairman is PDP. I don’t know if that makes a difference but they also have a tournament that was not raided by SWAT,” Gepte said in a mix of English in Cebuano.
Cebu City Police Director Royina Garma defended her men, however.
Garma said they have evidence to prove the vote buying.
“Nandoon yung mga polis natin may report na there is ongoing activity na hindi tama doon, so it was verified they were caught in the act,” Garma said in a separate interview.
Mayor Osmena has long accused the Cebu City police of being partisan with Labella, an allegation denied by Garma and Labella himself.