Valte decries Comelec ‘ban’ on gov’t officials posting about candidates
“Particularly alarming.” Such was how Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte described a provision of a Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution released recently.
Resolution no. 10049 defines a number of prohibited acts, pursuant to existing election laws.
Valte, a lawyer by occupation, took to Facebook to express her disagreement with the said resolution, specifically Section 4 (e), which states that: “Personal opinions, views, and preferences for candidates, contained in blogs and micro-blogs shall not be considered as acts of election campaigning or partisan political activity unless expressed by government officials in the Executive Department, the Legislative Department, the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, and members of the Civil Service.”
“Beginning February 9, if I tweet or post ‘Candidate Y is a douchebag’ then I may be prosecuted for an election offense,” Valte posted on Thursday morning.
She argued that the resolution goes against “the clear provision of Section 55 of the Administrative Code (which, in the hierarchy of laws, trumps the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations)) which reads: ‘Nothing herein provided shall be understood to prevent any officer or employee from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of his candidates for public office whom he supports.’”
Valte claimed that the new resolution imposes censorship and prior restraint on government employees.
“Freedom of speech, anyone? Kelan pa bumalik ang Martial Law? Di ba 2016 na? (When was Martial Law re-imposed? Isn’t it 2016 already?)” she said.
Furthermore, the Palace official said that censorship is only allowed under the Philippine Constitution when there is “clear and present danger of a substantive evil to public safety, public morals, public health or any other legitimate public interest.”
“Put another way, how will my posting of ‘I don’t like Candidate XY because his pigs live in an airconditioned pen’ pose a clear and present danger to public safety? Public morals? Public health? Considered public health agad kapag tumaas ang blood pressure ni Candidate XY dahil nabasa niya ang post ko (It’s immediately considered public health if the blood pressure of Candidate XY shoots up when he reads my post)?”
Nevertheless, Valte said she hopes her interpretation of the Comelec resolution was wrong. “Sana mali lang ang intindi ko sa inyo, COMELEC (I hope my interpretation of your resolution is wrong, COMELEC),” she said. RAM
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