DILG warns LGUs: Spare gov’t properties from partisan activities

SORSOGON CITY --- Local government units have been warned against using government facilities and properties in partisan political activities. In a directive, Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año ordered all local government units (LGUs) to clear all government facilities, properties, and vehicles of political campaign materials. “We will not allow candidates to use government properties as a platform for their election campaign. It’s clearly prohibited. Government buildings, properties, vehicles, and equipment are for official use only and may not be used as venues or tools for partisan political activity,” Año said. He stressed that Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code bans the use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by government for any election campaign or any partisan political activity. In a press release published in the DILG website, Año also warned LGU officials and employees against from promoting or endorsing candidates of the upcoming elections and must abstain from engaging in partisan political activities, except local elective officials who, by the political nature of their position, are exempted from the ban. “Civil service personnel are tasked to serve our country with integrity and neutrality. It’s none of our business to influence public opinion on poll bets. Let’s just do our jobs and respect the people’s ability to make informed decisions during the May elections,” he stressed. It could be recalled that in 2016, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued Joint Resolution 1600298 prohibiting all LGU officials and employees from participating in any electioneering and partisan political activities during the campaign season, except local elective officials who, by the nature of their office, are exempted. Based on the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases contained in CSC Resolution No. 1101502, those found guilty of partisan political activity will be charged with 1 to 6 months of suspension without pay on the first offense and dismissal from the service and permanent disqualification from the civil service on the second offense. Also, Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines considers election-related violations as criminal offenses and therefore punishes the offender with 1 to 6 years of imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and prohibition from exercising their voting rights. DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya urged the public to report LGUs violating the election ban to Comelec or the DILG by taking a picture of the campaign material together with a copy of the day’s newspaper as proof of date. “The Comelec has promised to act on these violations immediately. There are Comelec election officers in most towns in the country. Let us help (Comelec) in ensuring a peaceful and honest election by reporting violations to their field offices,” Malaya said.