May face suspension, removal or imprisonment
MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte – Election fever is steadily rising as the filing of the certificates of candidacy has concluded and the date of candidate substitution (November 15) draws near for the upcoming May 9, 2022 national and local elections.
As the election period comes into full swing the Civil Service Commission in a memorandum again reminded all appointed government employees to observed political neutrality in the conduct of their public duties and to halt any partisan politicking through electioneering.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution states that, “No officer or employee in the civil service, as well as any member of the military, shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political activity, except to vote.”
The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees is clear and warns against electioneering and states that, “public officials and employees are to practice political neutrality, and if they commit any violation regardless of whether or not he holds office or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or regular capacity,…shall be punished with a fine not exceeding the equivalent of six (6) months’ salary or suspension not exceeding one (1) year, or removal depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing.”
Under the Omnibus Election Code, Sec. 261, 2, i. “Intervention of public officers and employees – Any officer or employee in the civil service, except those holding political offices; any officer, employee, or member or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or any police force, special forces, home defense forces, barangay self-defense units and all other para-military units that now exist or which may hereafter be organized who, directly or indirectly, intervenes in any election campaign or engages in any partisan political activity, except to vote or to preserve public order, if he is a peace officer.” Further Section 264 of the election code provides that “Any person found guilty of any election offense under this Code shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.”
According to Civil Service Rules, “partisan political activities include “forming organization or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes; holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes; making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office.”
Also prohibited is using government vehicles in attending political caucuses, or other similar assemblies/activities conducted by a political party or candidates; and other similar acts.
When interviewed by SLT a ranking officer of the Philippine Information Agency said, “Naa may civil service rules bahin ana, and as a public servant we have to abide by the civil service guidelines and regulations.” Likewise, FO2 Arnold Pedemonte of the Bureau of Fire Protection (Maasin City) commented that “as uniformed personnel, we are to practice non-partisan politics. We are expected not to be biased in our work, more so during the election period.”
On the other hand, a local government employee when asked by SLT if she believed in the government prohibition on electioneering said, “No, as we still have the freedom to speak.” Similarly, a national government employee related, “For me, I have the right to voice out my opinion and express what or to whom I believe in.”