A case for vote buying filed against a municipal councilor of Tubigon and three of his supposed henchmen before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office was dismissed for failure of the complainant, an election officer, to point out what particular election offense the respondents committed. Second Asst. Provincial Prosecutor Eric Ucat threw out the case for violation of Section 261 in relation to Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code or particularly on vote-buying. In dismissing the complaint, Prosecutor Ucat cited Siegfred Saniel, election registrar of Tubigon, for his failure to point out what was the particular offense that was being violated by the respondents for which they were being charged with by him. As complainant, Saniel was one witness in the list of witnesses that were subpoenaed by the prosecutor to appear before his office.
However, despite being notified, complainant failed to appear during the scheduled clarificatory hearing. Consequently, he likewise failed to enlighten the prosecution regarding the particular election offense that he was charging the respondents. Named respondents in the instant case were Antonio Omus, who was running for reelection in the May 10 polls in Tubigon. He won reelection. He was represented in the case by lawyer Florendo Columnas. Three of his supposed confederates in the alleged crime were identified as Arturo Candia, Jason Talaboc and Renato Mendez, all of Tubigon town. According to a police report on the incident, the four were indicted for alleged vote buying after an Isuzu Crosswind with suspicious-looking men registered under the name of Omus were distributing bribe money to the electorate not to vote for mayoralty candidate William Jao. Omus was not in the vehicle when it was waylaid by responding policemen.
The same police report indicated that when the lawmen confronted the vehicle's occupants, all three scampered away. The apprehended vehicle which bore a big streamer of Umos yielded money stapled with papers with letters printed in it. The discovery of cash with stapled money along with campaign materials of Omus gave rise to the vote buying case. The cash found in the vehicle amounted to P43,410.00. According to Prosecutor Ucat, while it was not an unacceptable deduction that respondents in the sequence of events during the incident in question had/have possession, whether actual or constructive, over the money, the seized amount and stapled campaign materials, the foregoing circumstances, did not yet constitute a breach of any of the prohibited acts enounced under Section 261 of Batas Pambansa Blg.881, as amended. Thus, the prosecutor said, said acts cannot be considered as an overt act of vote buying.