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Hypocrisy in Jagna, Bohol: Vote-buying Triggers SK Official’s Resignation

Rizaldy Villaflores, the newly elected vice president of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of Jagna, Bohol, has resigned from his post after admitting to being involved in vote-buying and other irregularities during the SK Federated election last November 13, 2023.

In a letter addressed to Noel Galia, the SK Federated president-elect of Jagna, Villaflores said he was formally tendering his resignation as SK Federated vice president, effective immediately.

Villaflores, who is also a member of the Parish Youth Ministry (PYM) and the Pag-asa Youth Movement (PYM) of Jagna, said he violated the core values and principles of his groups when he participated in the vote-buying and other unlawful acts during the SK Federated election period.

The vote-buying scandal at the SK Federation election was allegedly orchestrated by a top official of the town who bragged about his immaculate obedience of the law governing vote-buying. It turned out the scandal showed the hypocrisy of the said official at his best.

He cited Section 21 of the DILG-COMELEC-NYC Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2017-01 dated June 23, 2017, which prohibits any form of coercion, intimidation, or influence in the conduct of the SK elections.

He also quoted Bishop Alberto Uy, the bishop of Tagbilaran, who said that “integrity in leadership is essential for the well-being of individuals and society, and that a lack of integrity can lead to corruption and unethical practices.”

Uy, who was a former parish priest in Jagna, issued a statement that warned against reprehensible acts in relation to the SK elections.

“As a youth leader in public service, I have to stand and tell the truth to rectify these mistakes in order for me to lead by example in the right way. Thus, this resignation as SK Federated Vice President-elect of Jagna, Bohol,” Villaflores wrote.

Villaflores also promised to tell everything he knows about the scandal that resulted from their movement.

The SK Federated election in Jagna was held on November 13, 2023 at Goyo Hall, Jagna Municipal. Villaflores was elected as vice president with 18 votes, while Galia was elected as president with 20 votes.

The SK Federation is the governing body of the SK, the youth council in every barangay. This federation elects among themselves a president and a vice president, who will serve as ex-officio members of the municipal council.

The SK elections are part of the barangay and SK elections (BSKE) that were held nationwide on October 30, 2023. The BSKE were originally scheduled for May 2020, but were postponed twice due to various reasons.

The elected barangay and SK officials will begin their terms at noon on November 30, 2023. They will serve until 2025, when the next BSKE will be held.

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the BSKE are significant as they are the first large-scale poll conducted by the George Garcia-led Comelec, and the first nationwide election under a Marcos presidency.

The Comelec received 1.41 million certificates of candidacy for the BSKE, a 23% increase from the 1.14 million COCs submitted in 2018, the last time the BSKE were held.

The Comelec also urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to clarify its guidelines and directives related to the Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB) and SK federation elections to ensure smooth transition.

Despite being non-partisan, the election of SK federations in all towns and cities in the country was still hounded with alleged vote-buying and other irregularities.

The SK Federated election in Jagna, however, became controversial not long after it was held.

According to an SK official who spoke on condition of anonymity, they were paid P5,000 and housed in a hotel in Tagbilaran City one day before the SK Federation election.

This contradicted the claim of Jagna Mayor Joseph Rañola, who said that no candidate was able to buy votes in Jagna during the BSKE on October 30, 2023, because of his “Kontra-bigay” campaign.

Rañola, who was known as an expert in national budget, announced his resignation as mayor of Jagna in June 2023, citing his desire to focus on his consultancy firm.

The resignation of Villaflores and Rañola has sparked mixed reactions from the Jagnaanons, some of whom expressed disappointment and betrayal, while others expressed gratitude and respect, reports said.

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