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Monday, January 14, 2013

Rey Anthony Chiu

CORTES, Bohol, January 14, 2013 (PIA) – Crooked elective local officials who think the coming of the election period makes them immune from suits and suspensions could be wrong.

For just as January 13 signals the beginning of the election period for the May 13, 2013 polls, local officials accused of “graft and corruption” can still be suspended.

This means that contrary to the prohibition of suspension of elective officials from the province, city, municipal and barangay governments which takes effect at the beginning of the election period as provided by the Omnibus Election Code, if the suspension is in application of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices, then a public official with allegations of irregularity can still be hanged.

“The provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding during the election period, any public official who suspends, without prior approval of the Commission, any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer, unless said suspension will be for purposes of applying the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" in relation to the suspension and removal of elective officials; in which case the provisions of this section shall be inapplicable,” states section 261 (x) of the OEC.

Moreover, even during the election period, as long as it has the prior approval of the Commission, suspensions are deemed effective, by application of law.

Aside from the prohibition of suspension for cases other than graft and corruption, election period, which started January 13 until June 12, also bans the alteration of territory of a precinct or establishment of a new precinct pursuant to section 5, of the Republic Act 8189.

“No territory comprising an election precinct shall be altered or a new precinct be established at the start of the election period,” according to the cited provision of law.

The election period also prohibits the transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service. (Sec. 261 (h), OEC).

On the other hand, as election period signals the gun ban, bearing, carrying or transporting firearms or other deadly weapons, unless authorized in writing by the Commission. (Sec. 261 (p) (q) (r) and (s), OEC as amended by Sec. 32, RA 7166) is strictly prohibited.

Also banned is the use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates, unless authorized in writing by the Commission. (Sec. 261 (t), OEC as amended by Sec. 33, RA 7166).

The period also effectively prohibits the organization or maintenance of reaction forces, strike forces or other similar forces. (Sec. 261 (u), OEC). (30/gg)

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