Financial institutions, regulators vow to tighten watch vs digital vote buying

REGULATORS, financial institutions and other stakeholders vowed to tighten monitoring and reporting of digital transactions that could be related to vote buying even as they assured that mechanisms are in place to avert illegal practices.

“We can only imagine how creative they (vote buyers and sellers) can be in the forthcoming election,” Socorro B. Inting, Commission on Elections acting chairperson, said in a virtual gathering entitled “Advocacy Campaign on the Responsible Use of Digital Payment Platforms” held on Tuesday.

“What we can do is embrace (innovation) wholeheartedly, study it meticulously, and calibrate our approaches in order to deal with it,” she said.

Vote buying and selling, an illegal practice under Philippine law, involves an exchange of money or other forms of valuable goods for guaranteed support to a candidate or candidates on election day.

“Stories are aplenty of election operators sourcing payments to vote sellers via money transfers or through GCash,” Ms. Inting said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno acknowledged that digital payment channels that have made transactions easier during the pandemic are at risk of being abused by digital vote buyers.

He said the central bank has directed its supervised financial institutions to enhance surveillance and monitoring in light of possible election-related activities.

In a statement released following the digital event, FintechAlliance.Ph and the eMoney Association of the Philippines committed to proactively report unfair practices that could compromise a free and fair elections.

They also assured they have control mechanisms against vote buying, including a stringent onboarding process, which includes a one-is-to-one account registration and account verification. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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