Vote buying is an election offense “regardless of financial situation or noble intentions,” the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Wednesday.

James Jimenez, spokesman of the poll body, made the statement after Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo advised voters to take politicians’ money but vote for their own preferred candidates.

“I disagree with the notion of taking the money and voting according to your conscience,” he said in a tweet.

“Vote buying is an election offense regardless of financial situation or noble intentions. Di dapat ginagawa, at di dapat sina-suggest yan sa mga botante,” he added.

Robredo on Wednesday said she only made the remark to state what had been happening on the ground.

“‘Yung sinabi ko kahapon, ‘yung vote buying, mali ‘yun…pero over the years, very rampant siya dito sa atin. ‘Yung frustrating dito sa lahat kasi hindi maayos ‘yung pag-i-implement ng regulations about vote buying,” she said.

The vice president, who is vying for the presidency in 2022, asserted that she would never tolerate vote buying and that she was only calling for the proper implementation of laws against it.

“Aware tayo sa nasa batas, hindi tayo masaya na hindi ito nae-enforce pero dapat bukas ‘yung mata natin sa realities on the ground. Kung hindi maayos ‘yung enforcement, ano ba ‘yung gagawin natin?” she said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro