Duterte camp: Liberal Party, Roxas using BUB for vote-buying

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Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II (L) and PDP-Laban's presidential candidate Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte (R).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines)The camp of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte is accusing the Liberal Party and its standard bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II of vote-buying through the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) program.

The BUB program allows local communities to determine their own needs from the government. Roxas, in meetings with mayors and local officials this week, vowed to continue and expand the program if elected as president.

Calling the BUB as a form of bribery, the Duterte camp said the promise of Roxas is "aimed at cornering support from local officials, and is supported and blessed by no less than President Benigno Aquino."

Peter Laviña, spokesperson and head of Duterte's media team, said that the millions of pesos from the government fund under BUB is being used as a ruse into voting for Roxas.

"BUB is officially a campaign kitty of the administration bet," Laviña said.

Questionable premise of promise

Speaking at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Thursday (February 11) Roxas received a big round of applause from barangay officials not necessarily to assure him he had their votes but because they liked a promise he made to them if he wins the election: to generate P100 billion in additional funds from the national budget for barangays and municipalities.

Watch: Roxas, Robredo woo barangay officials

"Mar is holding the life of every Filipino hostage by dangling P1,000 at the start of his presidential campaign, conditioning it on his fate come May 9," said Laviña. "Clearly, the administration bet is resorting to bribery, offering money to local chief executives in the hope of winning their support."

"How this money is supposed to be spent under the BUB process is very questionable. The whole premise of this promise is questionable."

Aquino was present when Roxas presented to the barangay officials and he defended the BUB likening it to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program which he said is criticized but continues to help many poor communities.

Also read: Duterte takes day off from campaign after migraine attack

Duterte's spokesperson called on the local executives not to be swayed by the promises of Roxas and his "Tuwad na Daan" agenda, something that Duterte himself has called a sham and a "failed government."

"Let us not be fooled by this. This early, Roxas is already trying to buy local executives by promising them rewards. He is as worse as Binay who is mired in allegations and cases of illegal wealth and corruption,” Laviña said.

No politics involved

Senate President and Liberal Party Vice Chairman Franklin Drilon defended the ruling party from such criticisms.

"Ito'y matagal nang programa at ito ay pagpapatuloy lang ni Mar and Leni kung sila ay magwagi kasi ina-address lang ang pangangailangan. Walang pulitika ito," Drilon said.

[Translation: "The BUB is not new, and if elected Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo will continue this program. There is no politics involved."]

Former Justice Secretary and LP senatorial candidate Leila de Lima, meanwhile, said the BUB program recognizes the needs of local communities.

Also read: Comelec to hold mock elections on February 13

"So alangan naman dahil election lang hindi na tugunan ang request because they were asked kung ano needs nila. This is a good project, kinikilala sa komunidad na nakakaalam kung anong gusto nila."

[Translation: "Just because its the election period that doesn't mean we should stop responding to requests. This is a good project, the needs of communities are being recognized."]

CNN Philippines correspondents Cecille Lardizabal and Patricia de Leon, and Davao-based journalist Ben Tesiorna contributed to this report.