Wednesday, February 22, 2012

KILOSBAYAN vs. COMELEC, [G.R. No. 128054, October 16, 1997]

Facts: A complaint was filed against private respondents, alleging that Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) were use for electioneering purposes. Kilosbayan alleges that DILG-NCR collaborated with Philippine Youth Health and Sports Development Foundation, Inc. (PYHSDFI), the former approving allotment to the latter 70M allegedly use to buy medical and sports equipment that was distributed few days before election and stopped at the day of election. 

Comelec investigators submitted the dismissal of the complaint for lack of evidence to prove probable cause. Kilosbayan provided news clippings, regarding alleged use of funds resulting from the said transaction of DILG-NCR and PYHSDFI and arguments to support its claims. The new paper clippings was regarded as hearsay. 

Kilosbayan filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that they are not responsible for the production of evidence by using public funds, it is the COMELEC who should search the evidence by using public funds and with the help of other agencies of the government as the constitution gave them the responsibility to prosecute election offenses. The motion was denied, thus this petition to compel COMELEC to prosecute the private respondents 

Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC can be compelled to produce evidence despite the complainants failure to prove probable cause. 

Held: NO, Insofar as the prosecution of election offenses is concerned, therefore, the COMELEC is the "public prosecutor with the exclusive authority to conduct the preliminary investigation and the prosecution of election offenses punishable under the [Omnibus Election] Code before the competent court." 

The determination of probable cause in any criminal prosecution, is made indispensable by the Bill of Rights which enshrines every citizen's right to due process, the presumption that he is presumed innocent. 

Petitioner KILOSBAYAN must have necessarily tendered evidence, independent of and in support of the allegations in its letter-complaint, to prove probable cause. It certainly demands more than "bare suspicion" and can never be "left to presupposition, conjecture, or even convincing logic" 

The task of the COMELEC as investigator and prosecutor, acting upon any election offense complaint, is not the physical searching and gathering of proof in support of a complaint for an alleged commission of an election offense. A complainant, who in effect accuses another person of having committed an act constituting an election offense, has the burden, as it is his responsibility, to follow through his accusation and prove his complainant.

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