Press Release
November 24, 2011


1. Definition of electoral sabotage. A special election offense committed by a person or member of the board of election inspectors or board of canvassers who tampers, increases or decreases the votes, or refuses to credit the correct votes or deduct the tampered votes, and the same is perpetrated on a large scale or in substantial numbers.

2. Penalty. Life imprisonment, and non-bailable when evidence of guilt is strong. Same penalty for those who conspire or connive.

3. Who may investigate and prosecute? The COMELEC has the power, concurrent with other prosecuting arms of government (e.g. DOJ) to conduct preliminary investigation of the offense and to prosecute the same. (Sec. 43, RA 9369)

4. Jurisdiction. Under the The Omnibus Election Code (1978), the court of first instance (now RTC) has exclusive and original jurisdiction to hear and decide all election offenses.

5. Does Sandiganbayan have jurisdiction? The jurisdiction of Sandiganbayan over "other crimes or offenses committed by public officers in relation to their office" is broad and general, and in statutory construction cannot be involved to repeal the exclusive and original jurisdiction of trial courts to hear and decide election offenses. Repeal by implication is not favored.

6. Between specific and general statute, the former (Election Code) must prevail. RTC has jurisdiction.

7. Joint DOJ-Comelec Panel

a. Basis of Creation: Comelec Resolution No. 3407 (Jan. 12, 2001), requesting the DOJ Secretary to assign prosecutors as members of a special task force to assist Comelec in the investigation and prosecution of election offenses in the May 14, 2001 national and local election and reiterating the continuing deputation of prosecutors under Rule 34 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure.

b. Creation of Joint Panel Is Valid. The Supreme Court has recognized the validity and even the necessity of Comelec's availment of the assistance and cooperation of the DOJ in the investigation and prosecution of election offenses (People vs. Basillo; Comelec vs. Español)

c. Independence of Comelec Not Impaired. Under the Comelec Rules of Procedure, Comelec can motu propio revise, modify and reverse the resolution of the Chief State Prosecutor and/or Provincial/City prosecutors. Appeals from the action of the prosecutors may be brought to the Comelec.

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