DoJ, Comelec launch joint probe of past election fraud
The Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) released a joint order on Monday setting in motion a new inquiry into allegations of massive fraud in the 2004 and 2007 national elections.
Joint Order No. 001-2011, signed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr., created a fact-finding team and a preliminary investigation committee to look into electoral fraud charges.
The order states that the move to investigate the past elections was “due to the recent discovery of new evidence and the surfacing of new witnesses indicating the occurrence of massive electoral fraud and the manipulation of election results in the 2004 and 2007 National Elections, relating in particular to the presidential and senatorial elections.”
The two officials said “there is a need to conduct a thorough investigation…in order to determine the election offenses and criminal acts committed, and their manner of commission; the identification of liable parties and their individual criminal culpability, and the filing of the appropriate charges against them.”
Prosecutor General Claro Arellano was designated chair of the five-man preliminary investigation committee.
The composition of the fact-finding team would be named in a separate order, it was announced. They will be under the direct supervision of the justice secretary and the Comelec chair, or in the latter’s absence, a senior Comelec commissioner.
The fact-finding team will be chaired by an Assistant Secretary of the DoJ, and will have six members—two from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), two from the DoJ, and two from the Comelec.
The fact-finding team was created “for the purpose of gathering real, documentary and testimonial evidence which can be utilized in the preliminary investigation.”
The joint order also said the preliminary investigation committee may, “at any time, and without awaiting the final report of the fact-finding team, commence its preliminary investigation as soon as it finds enough basis to do so.”
The committee may file criminal information directly with the appropriate courts.
The committee will be given 48 hours from the issuance of the joint order to “meet and craft its rules of procedure.”
In an interview yesterday, De Lima said that personally she thought the affidavits of police Senior Supt. Rafael Santiago Jr. and his men may be considered for preliminary investigation “against the named personalities as respondents.”
Santiago and his men recently revealed that they had unwittingly participated in a 2005 break-in at the Batasan Pambansa, believed to be for the switching of authentic election returns for fake ones in the event that the election protest of the late Fernando Poe Jr. prospered.
The protest did not push through after the Supreme Court denied the request of Poe’s widow, Susan Roces, to substitute for him and pursue his protest even after his death in December 2004.