MANILA, Philippines — Since the May 9 national and local polls are now over, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), together with the Department of Justice (DOJ), will be going after individuals who allegedly violated election laws.
In Comelec Resolution No. 10125, the commission en banc created a Comelec-DOJ Special Task Force that will investigate and prosecute election offense cases.
“The Comelec and all prosecuting officials are enjoined to give preference and priority to the investigation and prosecution of cases involving violations of election laws,” said the resolution dated May 5.
The Special Task Force shall be tasked to assist the Comelec and the DOJ in the exercise of their concurrent powers to conduct preliminary investigation of election offenses punishable under the existing election laws, and to prosecute the offenders.
It will be composed of five prosecutors as members in the National Capital Region (NCR) while two prosecutors in each province comprise the task force.
The resolution added that the preliminary investigation and prosecution of election law violations shall be governed by the Comelec Rules of Procedure while the DOJ Rules on Preliminary Investigation shall only be supplementary.
As for cases concerning gun ban violations, the commission said the Comelec-DOJ Special Task Force is being authorized to receive from the Philippine National Police (PNP) all documents and pieces of evidence received in connection with the arrests that have been made.
Other common election offense cases include vote-buying and vote-selling incidents, maintenance of private armies, violation of the liquor ban, disruption of the election process, and destruction of election paraphernalia.
The Omnibus Election Code provides that any person found guilty of any election offense shall be punished with one to six years imprisonment, disqualification to hold public office, and deprivation of the right of suffrage. Ferdinand Patinio/PNA/northboundasia.com