Regional election attorneys assistant regional

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Regional Election Attorneys, Assistant Regional Election Directors, Regional Election Directors and lawyers of the Law Department are authorized to conduct preliminary investigation of complaints involving election offenses under the election laws which may be filed directly with them, or which may be indorsed to them by the COMELEC. The “exclusive power [of the COMELEC] to conduct a preliminary investigation of all cases involving criminal infractions of the election laws” stated in Par. 1 of COMELEC disqualification case. It has been repeatedly underscored that an election offense has its criminal and electoral aspects. While its criminal aspect to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused cannot be the subject of summary hearing, its electoral aspect to ascertain whether the offender should be disqualified from office can be determined in an administrative proceeding that is summary in character. Ejercito likewise asserts that the Advertising Contract dated May 8. 2013 should not have been relied upon by the COMELEC. First, it was not formally offered in evidence pursuant to Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules and he was not even furnished with a copy thereof, depriving him of the opportunity to examine its authenticity and due execution
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POLITICAL LAW CASE DIGESTS 328 and object to its admissibility. Second, even if Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules does not apply, administrative bodies exercising quasi- judicial functions are nonetheless proscribed from rendering judgment based on evidence that was never presented and could not be controverted. There is a need to balance the relaxation of the rules of procedure with the demands of administrative due process, the tenets if which are laid down in the seminal case of Ang Tibay vs. Court of Industrial Relations (69 Phil, 635 [1940]). And third, the presentation of the advertising contracts, which are highly disputable and on which no hearing was held for the purpose of taking judicial notice in accordance with Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules, cannot be dispensed with by COMELEC’s claim that it could take judicial notice. Contrary to Ejercito’s claim, Section 34 Rule 132 of the Rules is inapplicable. Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court is clear enough in stating that it shall not apply to election cases except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient. In fact, nowhere from COMELEC Resolution No. 9523 requires that documentary evidence should be formally offered in evidence. We remind again that the electoral aspect of disqualification case is done through an administrative proceeding which is summary in character. Granting, for argument’s sake, that Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court applies, there have been instances when We suspended the strict application of the rule in the interest of substantial justice, fairness, and equity.
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