MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it could not stop candidates from giving speeches at graduation ceremonies but that they should turn down these invitations as a matter of “delicadeza.”
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a press briefing that the poll body could not prosecute candidates who would use commencement exercises to promote their candidacies in the May elections but that the schools that invited them despite a circular from the Department of Education (DepEd) would be held liable.
“As far as the Comelec is concerned, it’s OK for politicians to speak during graduation ceremonies but I think it will be the school administrators who will be held liable by the DepEd… I just don’t know what penalty will be imposed,” Brillantes said.
“I don’t think giving speeches during graduation rites will help them get votes… some people might even get turned off by these candidates,” he said.
Last month, Education Secretary Armin Luistro issued a memorandum reminding all schools that commencement exercises “shall not be used as a political forum” by candidates running in the midterm balloting.
Brillantes said the Comelec would also be vigilant against the putting up of election posters in school premises, graduation venues and the roads leading to them.
“Graduation areas are not part of the common poster areas, that is for certain,” said Brillantes.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 9615, lawful election paraphernalia are only allowed in authorized common poster areas in public places.
For its part, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) on Monday called on all Catholic schools in the country not to allow candidates to use graduation rites as a venue for campaigning.
Over Radio Veritas, CEAP president Fr. Greg Banaga said school administrators and even alumni must refrain from inviting politicians to give speeches at graduations.—Jocelyn R. Uy