ACT hits DepEd over campaign period guidelines
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) scored the Department of Education (DepEd) for failing to “fully disclose” guidelines on the conduct of public employees during the campaign season for the May 2019 elections.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ACT said it was concerned over a DepEd order that it described as “overly restrictive.”
Department Order NO. 48, series of 2018, the group said, “detailed prohibitions regarding electioneering and partisan activities of teaching and non-teaching personnel.” But it “failed to elaborate on allowable political expressions as accorded by other laws and policies.”
“DepEd’s failure to fully disclose provisions governing public employees’ conduct during campaign and election season has a dangerous effect on teachers and education workers’ rights to free expression,” Joselyn Martinez, ACT national chairperson, said.
“Since its issuance, we have observed an air of tension and anxiety among teachers and non-teaching staff when exercising their right to express their political views, in fear of being accused of electioneering,” she said.
ACT cited the 1987 Constitution, Omnibus Election Code, and Civil Service Commission (CSC) memoranda stating “that government workers retain their right to express views and opinions on political issues, as well as to mention names of candidates.”
“After all, being a public servant does not strip us of our civil and political rights as Filipino citizens,” Martinez said.
“We further call on DepEd to exercise due diligence in ensuring that government resources are not utilized in the campaign of candidates for the upcoming elections,” she added.
Moreover, Martinez said they received reports of candidates “particularly those favored by the Duterte administration” allegedly using personnel and resources of the government in their political agenda.
The group cited as example the launch of the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT)”, where the Philippine National Police (PNP) allegedly “wrote to school heads to get their students to enlist as participants in a February 11 activity which had former [presidential aide] and senatorial candidate Bong Go as its main speaker.”
“The same was observed in a CHEd-sanctioned Peace Assembly last February 15 in Bulacan State University where aspiring electorates known to be Duterte’s bets hogged most of the program,” the group added.
The ACT also alleged that state forces had been conducting seminars in schools where progressive party-list groups had been tagged as “communist fronts” and that teachers had been urged not to vote for these groups.
“These blatant violations of electioneering rules should be the subject of DepEd’s policies and any other regulations,” Martinez said. “The agency shall ensure that no such abuse of power and exploitation of government resources, including its personnel, takes place in our schools.” /atm
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