"This is just the latest of a series of shameless actions and
pronouncements from an official who supposedly upholds the rule of law,"
Akbayan nominee Walden Bello said in a statement.

Gonzalez, Bello added, "has become an embarrassment to the entire country."

Earlier this week, Gonzalez publicly promised to give barangay (village)
captains in Iloilo City P10,000 if they could deliver clean 12-0 sweeps for
the administration's TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Unity in the
May elections.

At the same time, Bello slammed the Commission on Elections' (Comelec)
hesitance to investigate Gonzalez, saying the poll body "has broad
constitutional powers to investigate motu propio," or on its own initiative.

Gonzalez has insisted his offer does not violate the law since he will be
spending his own money.

But Bello said, "even if this were Gonzales' personal funds, this clearly
violates the Omnibus Election Code and the 1987 Constitution, which bar
public officials from engaging in partisan activities. What's worse, this
is plain and simple vote-buying, a criminal act."

"Unless he wants to damage further the institution that he represents,
Secretary. Gonzales should resign or take a leave for the duration of the
election period," Bello said.

He also called on Malacañang to reprimand Gonzalez because, "as a Cabinet
secretary, he is the alter ego of the President. Any lukewarm and
wishy-washy response from the President would only reinforce this
administration's reputation as an instrument and a promoter of fraud."

( www.inquirer.net )