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Monday, June 17, 2024

Warrantless arrest vs. poll violators sought

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The Commission on Elections will submit a draft bill to Congress that would allow authorities to arrest election violators without securing a warrant of arrest.

Comelec chairperson George Garcia said there is a need to strengthen the poll regulator’s authority to arrest those who violate election laws, particularly those who have multiple registrations and those who are involved in vote-buying and vote-selling.

He said the Comelec will submit the 964-page draft bill proposing the revision of the entire Omnibus Election Code (OEC).

“There are draft bills already in the Senate and the House of Representatives, but the Comelec’s version had incorporated all the proposed revisions to the OEC. Ours is a compilation. We will submit it before the end of the year,” he added.

Among the provisions in the OEC that should be revised is the prohibition of arrests during the campaign period, Garcia said.

Another OEC provision in the proposed amendment repeals a provision in the 1987 Constitution prohibiting warrantless arrests.

“We will authorize the PNP to arrest in flagrante de licto — caught in the act, allowing us to arrest election violators caught on the spot for buying votes,” Garcia said.

Garcia also said among the amendments being proposed was improving the provisions for screening party-list applicants as well as allowing online voting, which will be beneficial for overseas Filipinos, specifically seafarers.

Garcia meanwhile warned candidates who will run in the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) against premature campaigning.

Garcia said those who will file their certificates of candidacy (COC) from August 28 to September 2 will already be considered as candidates.

“Once you filed your candidacy, all your posters plastered around should be removed. If not, we will file a case against you, and at the same time, we will remove them and you may even be disqualified,” Garcia said.

“And since you are now a candidate, Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code is applicable to you … which is premature campaigning.”

The campaign period for the 2023 BSKE will run from October 19 until October 28.

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