MANILA -- Former Senator Heherson Alvarez has withdrawn from his bid to represent the fourth legislative district of Isabela due to “massive vote-buying.”
Alvarez, in a statement, said he could no longer participate in the congressional race since vote-buying violated the freedom of people to select their own leaders.
“I cannot continue to participate in this political exercise that violates our precious political freedom of choice of leaders,” Alvarez said.
“This political abuse of our cherished freedom is now of wide public knowledge. We must renounce it, denounce it and withdraw our tolerance or our democracy will wither away,” he added.
Alvarez said vote-buying, which he described as destructive to freedom, made the entire electoral process a “sham.”
“Unfortunately, the massive and overwhelming vote-buying makes the electoral process a sham. Vote-buying is vote-killing and is as destructive to our democracy as drug is as destructive to our physical well-being,” Alvarez said.
He, however, explained that he was still grateful for having been endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte, noting that it would have been his “last effort to render public service.”
The former senator discouraged the public against voting for vote-buyers, saying they did not deserve to be in public office.
“We must not tolerate them to occupy the honored government offices of power and responsibility that enable them to harm with impunity our national interest,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, meanwhile, reiterated Duterte’s warning against vote-buying and also expressed hope that vote-buyers would be penalized the same way as other criminals like drug syndicates.
“Our President has issued a warning to jail the perpetrators of vote-buying. Let us stand up and assist the President to strengthen our democratic system and enable our people to exercise the right of precious suffrage as freemen in a robust and free community,” Alvarez said.
“Let us make those who undermine our free suffrage accountable to our laws and constitution. As the President has warned, we must seek to help penalize vote-buyers as we do to drug offenders,” he added.
Alvarez was first elected to the Philippine Senate in 1987 and reelected for another six-year term in 1992. He also chaired the Senate committee on environment for 10 years.
He served one term as congressman at the House of Representatives during the 11th Congress, from 1998 to March 2001. (PNA)