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Thursday, September 10, 2009

OEC VII - The Commission on Elections


Article VII

THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

Section Details

Sec. 52.  Powers and functions of the Commission on Elections. - In addition to the powers and functions conferred upon it by the Constitution, the Commission shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest elections, and shall:

a.   Exercise direct and immediate supervision and control over national and local officials or employees, including members of any national or local law enforcement agency and instrumentality of the government required by law to perform duties relative to the conduct of elections. In addition, it may authorize CMT cadets eighteen years of age and above to act as its deputies for the purpose of enforcing its orders.

     The Commission may relieve any officer or employee referred to in the preceding paragraph from the performance of his duties relating to electoral processes who violates the election law or fails to comply with its instructions, orders, decisions or rulings, and appoint his substitute.  Upon recommendation of the Commission, the corresponding proper authority shall suspend or remove from office any or all of such officers or employees who may, after due process, be found guilty of such violation or failure.

b.   During the period of the campaign and ending thirty days thereafter, when in any area of the country there are persons committing acts of terrorism to influence people to vote for or against any candidate or political party, the Commission shall have the power to authorize any member or members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Integrated National Police or any similar agency or instrumentality of the government, except civilian home defense forces, to act as deputies for the elections.

c.   Promulgate rules and regulations implementing the provisions of this Code or other laws which the Commission is required to enforce and administer, and require the payment of legal fees and collect the same in payment of any business done in the Commission, at rates that it may provide and fix in its rules and regulations.

Rules and regulations promulgated by the Commission to implement the provisions of this Code shall take effect on the sixteenth day after publication in the Official Gazette or in at least daily newspapers of general circulation.  Orders and directives issued by the Commission pursuant to said rules and regulations shall be furnished by personal delivery to accredited political parties within forty-eight hours of issuance and shall take effect immediately upon receipt.

In case of conflict between rules, regulations, orders or directives of the Commission in the exercise of its constitutional powers and those issued by any other administrative office or agency of the government concerning he same matter relative to elections, the former shall prevail.

d.   Summon the parties to a controversy pending before it, issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, and take testimony in any investigation or hearing before it, and delegate such power to any officer of the Commission who shall be a member of the Philippine Bar.  In case of failure of a witness to attend, the Commission, upon proof of service of the subpoena to said witnesses, may issue a warrant to arrest witness and bring him before the Commission or the officer before whom his attendance is required.

     Any controversy submitted to the Commission shall, after compliance with the requirements of due process, be immediately heard and decided by it within sixty days from submission thereof.  No decision or resolution shall be rendered by the Commission either en banc or by division unless taken up in a formal session properly convened for the purpose.

     The Commission may, when necessary, avail of the assistance of any national or local law enforcement agency and/or instrumentality of the government to execute under its direct and immediate supervision any of its final decisions, orders, instructions or rulings.

e.   Punish contempts provided for in the Rules of Court in the same procedure and with the same penalties provided therein.  Any violation of any final and executory decision, order or ruling of the Commission shall constitute contempt thereof. 

f.    Enforce and execute its decisions, directives, orders and instructions which shall have precedence over those emanating from any other authority, except the Supreme Court and those issued in habeas corpus proceedings.

g.   Prescribe the forms to be used in the election, plebiscite or referendum.

h. Procure any supplies, equipment, materials or services needed for the holding of the election by public bidding: Provided, That, if it finds the requirements of public bidding impractical to observe, then by negotiations or sealed bids, and in both cases, the accredited parties shall be duly notified.

i.     Prescribe the use or adoption of the latest technological and electronic devices, taking into account the situation prevailing in the area and the funds available for the purpose: Provided, That the Commission shall notify the authorized representatives of accredited political parties and candidates in areas affected by the use or adoption of technological and electronic devices not less than thirty days prior to the effectivity of the use of such devices.

j.    Carry out a continuing and systematic campaign through newspapers of general circulation, radios and other media forms to educate the public and fully inform the electorate about election laws, procedures, decisions, and other matters relative to the work and duties of the Commission and the necessity of clean, free, orderly and honest electoral processes.

k.   Enlist non-partisan group or organizations of citizens from the civic, youth, professional, educational, business or labor sectors known for their probity, impartiality and integrity with the membership and capability to undertake a coordinated operation and activity to assist it in the implementation of the provisions of this Code and the resolutions, orders and instructions of the Commission for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest elections in any constituency.

     Such groups or organizations shall function under the direct and immediate control and supervision of the Commission and shall perform the following specific functions and duties:

A.  Before Election Day:

1.   Undertake an information campaign on salient features of this Code and help in the dissemination of the orders, decisions and resolutions of the Commission relative to the forthcoming election.

2.   Wage a registration drive in their respective areas so that all citizens of voting age, not otherwise disqualified by law may be registered.


3.   Help cleanse the list of voters of illegal registrants, conduct house-to-house canvass if necessary, and take the appropriate legal steps towards this end.

4.   Report to the Commission violations of the provisions of this Code on the conduct of the political campaign, election propaganda and electoral expenditures.

B.  On Election Day:

1.   Exhort all registered voters in their respective areas to go to their polling places and cast their votes.

2.   Nominate one watcher for accreditation in each polling place and each place of canvass who shall have the same duties, functions and rights as the other watchers of political parties and candidates.  Members or units of any citizen group or organization so designated by the Commission except its lone duly accredited watcher, shall not be allowed to enter any polling place except to vote, and shall, if they so desire, stay in an area at least fifty meters away from the polling place.

3.   Report to the peace authorities and other appropriate agencies all instances of terrorism, intimidation of voters, and other similar attempts to frustrate the free and orderly casting of votes.

4.   Perform such other functions as may be entrusted to such group or organization by the Commission.

The designation of any group or organization made in accordance herewith may be revoked by the Commission upon notice and hearing whenever by its actuations such group or organization has shown partiality to any political party or candidate, or has performed acts in excess or in contravention of the functions and duties herein provided and such others which may be granted by the Commission.

l.     Conduct hearings on controversies pending before it in the cities or provinces upon proper motion of any party, taking into consideration the materiality and number of witnesses to be presented, the situation prevailing in the area and the fund available for the purpose.

m. Fix other reasonable periods for certain pre-election requirements in order that voters shall not be deprived of their right of suffrage and certain groups of rights granted them in this Code.

Unless indicated in this Code, the Commission is hereby authorized for fix the appropriate period for the various prohibited acts enumerated herein, consistent with the requirements of free, orderly, and honest elections.

Sec. 53. Field offices of the Commission. - The Commission shall have the following field offices:

1.   Regional Election Office, headed by the Regional Election Director and assisted by the Assistant Regional Director and such other subordinate officers or employees as the Commission may appoint.

2.   Provincial Election Office, headed by the Provincial Election Supervisor and assisted by such other subordinate officers or employees as the Commission may appoint.

3.   City/Municipal Election Office, headed by the City/Municipal Registrar who shall be assisted by an election clerk and such other employees as the Commission may appoint.

The Commission may delegate its powers and functions or order the implementation or enforcement of its orders, rulings, or decisions through the heads of its field offices.

Sec. 54. Qualifications. - Only members of the Philippines Bar shall be eligible for appointment to the position of regional director, assistant regional director, provincial election supervisor and election registrar: Provided, however, That if there are no members of the Philippine Bar available for appointment as election registrar, except in cities and capital towns, graduates of duly recognized schools of law, liberal arts, education or business administration who possess the appropriate civil service eligibility may be appointed to said position.

Sec. 55. Office space. - The local government concerned shall provide a suitable place for the office of the provincial election supervisor and his staff and the election registrar and his staff: Provided, That in case of failure of the local government concerned to provide such suitable place, the provincial election supervisor or the election registrar, as the case may be, upon prior authority of the Commission and notice to the local government concerned, may lease another place for office and the rentals thereof shall be chargeable to the funds of the local government concerned.

Sec. 56. Changes in the composition, distribution or assignment of field offices. - The Commission may make changes in the composition, distribution and assignment of field offices, as well as its personnel, whenever the exigencies of the service and the interest of free, orderly, and honest election so require: Provided, That such changes shall be effective and enforceable only for the duration of the election period concerned and shall not affect the tenure of office of the incumbents of positions affected and shall not constitute a demotion, either in rank or salary, nor result in change of status: and Provided, further, That there shall be no changes in the composition, distribution or assignment within thirty days before election, except for cause and after due notice and hearing, and that in no case shall a regional or assistant regional director be assigned to a region; a provincial election supervisor to a province; or a city or municipal election registrar to a city or municipality, where he and/or his spouse are related to any candidate within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity as the case may be.

Sec. 57. Measures to ensure enforcement. - For the effective enforcement of the provisions of this Code, the Commission is further vested and charged with the following powers, duties and responsibilities:

1.   To issue search warrants after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses

2.   To stop any illegal election activity, or confiscate, tear down, and stop any unlawful, libelous, misleading or false election propaganda, after due notice and hearing.

3.   To inquire into the financial records of candidates and any organization or group of persons, motu proprio or upon written representation for probable cause by any candidate or group of persons or qualified voter, after due notice and hearing.

     For purposes of this section, the Commission may avail itself of the assistance of the Commission on Audit, the Central Bank, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Integrated National Police of the Philippines, barangay officials, and other agencies of the government.

Sec. 58. Disqualifications of members of the Commission. - The chairman and members of the Commission shall be subject to the canons of judicial ethics in the discharge of their functions.

No chairman or commissioner shall sit in any case in which he has manifested bias or prejudice for or against or antagonism against any party thereto and in connection therewith, or in any case in which he would be disqualified under the Rules of Court.  If it be claimed that the chairman or a commissioner is disqualified as above provided, the party objecting to his competency may file his objection in writing with the Commission stating the ground therefor.  The official concerned shall continue to participate in the hearing or withdrawn therefrom in accordance with his determination of the question of his disqualification.  The decision shall forthwith be made in writing and filed with the other papers of the case in accordance with the Rules of Court.  If a disqualification should result in a lack of quorum in the Commission sitting en banc, the Presiding Justice of the Intermediate Appellate Court shall designate a justice of said court to sit in said case for the purpose of hearing and reaching a decision thereon.

Sec. 59. Publication of official ballots and election returns and printing thereof. - The Commission shall publish at least ten days before an election in a newspaper of general circulation certified data on the number of official ballots and election returns and the names and addresses of the printers and the number printed by each.

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