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No campaigning in school rites -- DepEd

SORSOGON CITY --- Political campaigns will not be allowed in graduation rites in public schools all over the country.

This was made clear by the Department of Education as it issued DepEd Order No. 2-2019 which contains guidelines in the conduct of end-of-year rites for school year 2018-2019. It aims to insulate the schools from partisan political activities especially with the onset of the campaign. The directive, dated February 18, 2019, stated that graduation, moving-up and completion ceremonies “shall not be used as a political forum” and reiterated strict compliance to DepEd Order No. 4-2018 entitled “Prohibition of Electioneering Partisan Political Activity”. Under DO 48 the acts considered as partisan political activities include: • Formation of groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate or party; • Making speeches, announcements, or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate or party for public office; and • Publishing, displaying, or distributing campaign literature, or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate or party. Also prohibited are: • Receiving any contributions for political purposes, either directly or indirectly; wearing of t-shirts or pins, caps or any other similar election paraphernalia bearing the names of the candidates or political party except as authorized by Comelec; • Being a watcher for a political party or candidate during the election; and • Utilization of government resources such as personnel, including job order or contract of service hires, time, and properties for political purposes Education Sec. Leonor Briones said school events must be spared from such partisan activities and must be kept solemn and meaningful. However, DepEd Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Nepomuceno Malaluan clarified that the exercise of one's right to vote is not prohibited. Also not covered by the prohibition is the expression of one's views on political issues and mentioning the names of candidates and parties whom one supports, it also includes social media functions such as liking, commenting, sharing or following a candidate or party's account unless this is used as means to solicit support, he added. Meanwhile, Briones ordered school officials to observe austerity in the conduct of the ceremonies and prohibited the collection of any fee or contribution relative to such events as well as the imposition of non-academic activities as pre-requisite for graduation. Expenses is chargeable to the school’s Maintenance and Other Operating expenses fund. Based on the directive, end-of-year ceremonies are slated not earlier than April 1 but not later than April 5, 2019 and will focus on the theme, “Unity in Diversity: Quality Education for All”.

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