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Gov't employees reminded: You can't campaign for candidates, even on FB

Government employees are barred from campaigning for or against particular candidates — even on social media — but are free to share personal political views.

These provisions are part of a joint circular issued by the Commission on Elections and the Civil Service Commission for the May polls, which was signed by Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and CSC chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala on Tuesday.

"It's very clear, 'di ba, sabi niya (circular), even if you follow a candidate's account, [puwede] unless these are resorted to a means to solicit support for or against a candidate or party during the campaign period," Dela Rosa-Bala said.

She added: "Kung sabihin [mo] kung sino ang iboboto [mo], that's not covered because that's part of your expression of your choice for the positions being voted for... 'Pag sinabi mong 'I'm voting for Candidate X,' that's not part of the coverage. [Pero iba] if you're asking, 'Please vote for the candidate I'm voting for.'"

Government employees are allowed "social media functions such as liking, commenting, sharing, reposting, or following a candidate or party's account" provided that they do not "directly or indirectly" campaign for their preferred candidates.

They are also allowed to express their views on current political problems or issues, as well as mention the name of the candidates or parties they support.

Partisan political activities

In a bid for "political neutrality" during election season, however, civil servants are prohibited from certain activities, which include forming groups and holding assemblies to solicit votes or campaigning.

They are not allowed to take part in political conventions, nor be a "consistent presence" in political rallies, caucuses, or be identified with candidates or political parties. They are also not allowed to distribute letters "indicating intention to run for public office."

Government employees are also not allowed to receive contributions for political purposes, nor give personal, financial, or other monetary contribution for a candidate or party's campaign. 

They are also not allowed to wear shirts, pins, caps, or other similar paraphernalia to support a candidate or a party, or serve as watchers on election day.

Moreover, they are prohibited from utilizing government resources such as personnel, time, properties for campaigning.

The violations committed by government employees may be seen as an administrative offense under the CSC and as election offense under Comelec. 

The penalties range from suspension to dismissal, imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and "deprivation of right to vote."

Elected officials, political appointees exempted

Prohibitions on electioneering and partisan political activities cover members of the civil service in all branches of government, including government owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), and state universities and colleges whether their appointments are permanent, temporary, contractual, or even casual.

Career officers holding political offices in an acting capacity, uniformed and active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are also barred from partisan politics.
Employees who are on leave are still covered by the circular.

The limitations, however, do not apply to elected officials—except those at the barangay level—as well as political appointees, which includes the President and the Vice President, Cabinet officials, members of Congress, and local elective officials, their personal and confidential staff  and members of the AFP's reserve corps. — BAP/JST, GMA News

SOURCE: GMA NEWS

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