After the local elections of 18 Jan 1980, Ananias Hibo filed with the COMELEC a complaint charging petitioner Rogelio de Jesus, then COMELEC registrar of Casiguran, with violation of the 1978 Election Code. Assistant Fiscals Manuel Genova and Delfin Tarog, in their capacity as deputized Tanodbayan prosecutors, conducted an investigation.
Whether or not the Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan have the power to investigate, prosecute, and try election offenses committed by a public officer in relation to his office.
NO. The evident constitutional intendement in bestowing the power to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of election and the concomittant authority to investigate and prosecute election offenses to the COMELEC is to ensure the free, orderly and honest conduct of elections, failure of which would result in the frustration of the sacred right and duty of every qualified citizen to vote. To divest COMELEC of the authority to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by publi cofficials in relation to their office would thus seriously impair its effectiveness in achieving this clear constitutional mandate.