Quezon City mayoral candidate Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo has been arrested for alleged obstruction of justice in a vote buying incident in Barangay (Village) Bahay Toro in Quezon City.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde said in a press conference today that police officers were conducting an anti-vote buying operation at a house in the neighborhood last night when Crisologo arrived and allegedly padlocked the gate so the police operatives could not get out.
The police said they received a tip alleging that the house contained money that was handed out in exchange for votes. Undercover police officers posing as Quezon City residents arrived at the house at around 7:30pm, ABS-CBN News reported.
A person who is allegedly part of Crisologo’s team let the officers in the house and reportedly gave them cash and a photo of the mayoral candidate, the report added.
Members of Crisologo’s camp allegedly forbade the officers from leaving the premises after realizing that they were cops. They also contacted Crisologo about the situation, and he arrived at the house soon after.
Albayalde said that the officers were intimidated by Crisologo. He allegedly cursed and threatened the police that he would file charges against them, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Director Joselito Esquivel said, according to GMA News.
Police Lt. Col. Alex Alberto ordered Crisologo and his son Frederick Crisologo’s arrest when he arrived at the scene, ABS-CBN News reported. At least 40 others who were purportedly involved in the vote buying incident were also nabbed, Rappler reported.
However, police were only able to recover PHP800 (US$15.31) from one person, a man identified as 80-year-old Renato Echas.
Alberto said they did not have a search warrant and were unable to raid the site. He also said that their officers were “outnumbered” by Crisologo’s camp, Rappler reported.
On a Facebook video posted last night, Crisologo criticized the police for entering the house without a warrant. He also denied that he was involved in vote buying and defended that his poll watchers were merely undergoing training inside the house.
“When we arrived, we asked the police why they trespassed. Their commander, Colonel [Alex] Alberto, arrived and arrested all of us,” Crisologo said in Filipino. “We were handcuffed. This shows that even the police can be used against us by our political rivals.”
He also said the operatives allegedly did not read them their Miranda rights before the arrest.
Crisologo is running against incumbent Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte in the city’s mayoralty race. He is currently detained at Camp Karingal, under the custody of the QCPD’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit.