By Merlina Hernando Malipot
This early, the Department of Education (DepEd) has reminded its officials, teaching and non-teaching personnel against electioneering and the conduct of partisan political activity.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in DepEd Order No. 48 series of 2018, reminded all undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, bureau and service directors, regional directors, schools division superintendents and all school heads of public elementary and secondary schools on the “constitutional prohibition against electioneering and partisan political activity” months before the campaign period for the May 2019 midterm elections officially starts in February (for national position) and March (for local positions) 2019.
In issuing the said DepEd Order, Briones cited Article IX-B, Section 2(b), paragraph 4 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.”
Briones added that the Omnibus Election Code, as amended, “prohibits government officials and employees from engaging in any electioneering and partisan political activity and considers the commission thereof as an election offense punishable by law.” She also noted that the “same prohibition is found” in Book V, Title I, Chapter 7, Section 55 of Executive Order N. 292 or the Administrative Code of 1987.
Meanwhile, Briones also noted that an advisory on Electioneering and Partisan Political Activity issued through Civil Service (CSC) Resolution No. 1600298 dated March 29, 2016 also “reiterates that the prohibition aims to ensure that government workers will remain focused on the affairs of the government, to do away with the spoils system, and to shield public servants from the vagaries of politics.”
Partisan Political Activities
Briones explained that in accordance with the existing rules and regulations, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), and jurisprudence, partisan political activities – which refer to acts designed to promote election or defeat of a particular candidate or party to public office – are prohibited.
These activities include forming organizations, associations, clubs or committees or other groups of persons and holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate/ party; making speeches, announcements, or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate or party for public office; publishing, displaying or distributing campaigns literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate or party; and directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against a candidate or party.
Other political partisan activities include being a delegate to any political convention, or a member of a political committee or directorate, or an officer of any political club or other similar political organizations; receiving any contributions for political purposes, either directly or indirectly; and becoming publicly identified with the success or failure of any candidate/s or party/ies.
DepEd reminded that being a watcher for a political party or candidate during election; consistent presence in political rallies, caucuses or and continuous companionship with certain political candidates and/or political party in said political activities, causing employee to be closely identified with such candidate and/ or political part; and giving personal, financial, or other monetary contributions, supplies, equipment and materials for the benefit of a candidate and/or political party are all considered political partisan activities.
Additionally, DepEd noted that utilizing government resources such as personnel, including job order or contract of service hires, time, and properties for political purposes; distributing handbills or leaflets; attendance at political meetings and caucuses as well as distribution of letters indicating intention to run for public office are all prohibited.
DepEd officials, Briones added, are also “prohibited from using their position of authority or influence teaching and/or nonteaching personnel under their supervision or jurisdiction to support any preferred candidate or political party.”