House passes bill increasing penalties for certain election offenses

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill increasing the range of penalties of certain election-related offenses attended by violence, coercion, intimidation, force or threats and

other election offenses.

House Bill 4145 authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao) seeks to amend Sections 261 and 262 in relation to Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, as amended and Section 45 of Republic Act 8189 or “The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.”

“The State shall ensure fair honest, orderly and peaceful elections, safeguard the integrity and sanctity of the ballot and uphold the sovereign will of the electorate. It shall impose greater penalties for election offenses, more so when attended by violence, coercion, intimidation, force or threats,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the measure will be a better deterrent with the end in view of ensuring clean, orderly, honest and credible elections.

The measure identifies other persons who may be criminally liable for election offenses such as the members of the board of election inspectors, members of the board of canvassers and/or officials of the

Commission on Elections who aid, assists or participate, directly or indirectly the Commission.

It likewise increases the penalties for persons found guilty of election offenses as provided for under Section 46 of R.A. 8189 from imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years to

imprisonment of six years and one day but not more than twelve and shall not be subject to probation.

Rodriguez said Section 46 is amended to include that the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer perpetual disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.

Under the bill, any political party, political coalition, party-list, or aggrupation organized for political purpose to which the guilty party is a member shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than

P500,000 as part of the civil liability in connection with the election offense.

Rodriguez said if the crimes defined in the Revised Penal Code are committed in connection with an election or political exercise; such election-related element shall be appreciated as an aggravating

circumstance in imposing the appropriate penalty.

Rodriguez said if the subject offense is punishable both under the Omnibus Election Code and the Revised Penal Code, then the same shall be prosecuted separately and concurrently under the two laws.

Further, if the person found guilty is a foreigner, he shall be deported after his service of the imposed prison term.

Under the bill, additional amendments shall include if the offender is a prisoner illegally released, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the parties required by law to keep the said

prisoner in jail.

Rodriguez said the maximum penalties shall also be imposed upon any officer or employee of the COMELEC, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Police Force, Special Force, home Defense Forces, Barangay Self-Defense Units and all other para-military units, for both election offenses committed with violence and for other election offenses.

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