Legally Yours,  Political Law

De Jesus v. People

De Jesus v. People

120 SCRA 760

FACTS:

Defeated mayoral candidate of the Nacionalista party, Ananias Hibo, filed a complaint with the COMELEC charging Rogelio de Jesus, then COMELEC registrar of Casiguran, with violation of 1978 Election Code. Asst. Fiscals Manuel Genova and Delfin Tarog of the Tanodbayan conducted the investigation and issued a resolution finding the existence of prima facie case against petitioner for violation of section 89 and subsections of Section 178 of Election Code of 1978.

After approval by Tanodbayan, an information was filed before the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner questions jurisdiction of Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan over the case.

ISSUE:

Who has the power to investigate, prosecute, and try election offenses committed by a public officer in relation to his office- COMELEC and CFI or the Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan?

HELD:

COMELEC. Under Section 2 of Article 12 of the 1973 Constitution, the COMELEC has the power to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections Section 182 of 1978 Election Code.

Thus, the Commission shall, thru its duly authorized legal officer, has the power to conduct the preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under this Code and to prosecute the same. The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government.

Had the employee not been an officer of the COMELEC, regular courts would have jurisdiction. Section 4 of PD No. 1606 gives Sandiganbayan jurisdiction over crimes or offenses committed by public officer, in relation to their office. However, Section 184 of the Election Code also gave to the CFI the authority to hear and decide all election offenses without qualifications to the status of the accused to conduct the investigation and if evidence so warrants, prosecute through the help of the proper court or the CFI.

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