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Comelec clarifies: Probing admin plaints within poll period ok

Michael Vencynth H. Braga/NSA (The Freeman) - January 27, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Investigating bodies dealing with cases involving local elective officials can still investigate within the election period, an official of the Commission on Election in Cebu clarified yesterday.

Lawyer Ferdinand Gujilde, Comelec-Cebu election officer, said what is prohibited during the election period, which runs from January 10 until June 8, is only the suspension of any elective local officials.

The ban applies to the suspension as a penalty of the malfeasance, and the preventive suspension, which is imposed while an investigation is pending so as to prevent a public official from hampering the course of the investigation by using his influence over possible witnesses.

Gujilde made the statement after reports came out that the suspension ban for local elective officials will start only on February 9, or within 90 days before any local election.

He cited Comelec Resolution No. 10030, which provides that the suspension of local elective officials is prohibited from January 10 until June 8 this year.

“It does not contemplate about investigation. Investigation is not the concern of Comelec. What is our concern is the enforcement of suspension during the election period,” he told reporters.

This means that the investigating body of the local Sanggunian can still continue with their administrative proceedings since the ban for it is not yet in effect, he added.  Section 62 of the Local Government Code of 1991 prohibits the conduct of investigation of the administrative complaints within 90 days immediately prior to any local election.

Gujilde further said suspension may still be imposed within the election period but with prior approval from the poll body.

The requests for authority are submitted to the Law Department of the Comelec.

“They (investigating bodies) have to convince Comelec if there is basis for suspension,” Gujilde said.

He, however, noted that request for Comelec’s authority to suspend is not necessary if the offense involved is punishable under the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” and suspensions that were already implemented before the start of election period.

Suspensions that are being served before the onset of election period will also not be lifted.

“If the suspension is January 1, and the suspension is to be served for 30 days, pwede ra ipadayon… Pwede pod ka i-suspend January 9 even if the suspension is three months,” he explained. — (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT COMELEC COMELEC RESOLUTION NO ELECTION GUJILDE LAW DEPARTMENT OF THE COMELEC LAWYER FERDINAND GUJILDE LOCAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE SUSPENSION
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