Briones to teachers, other DepEd personnel: Be non-partisan

MANILA Teachers, non-teaching personnel and officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) are reminded not to engage in partisan politics this election season.

"Teachers teach the difference between a political official and employee of the executive branch of the government, and we're merely reminding them of what they already know to make sure everything is clear. We will have another conference on Jan. 22 to clarify specific instances on this which might need to be clarified in details," DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones said in a press briefing at the SEAMEO INNOTECH in Quezon City on Tuesday.

Under DepEd Order Number 48 series 2018, in accordance with Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rules and regulations, the acts regarded 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

DepEd Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Nepomuceno Malaluan clarified that the exercise of one's right to vote is not prohibited.

"For example, casting one's vote, expressing 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 said serving in the May mid-term elections remain a voluntary act, as public school teachers "usually say their preference before the electoral period especially in places considered as election hotspots".

DepEd Undersecretary for Planning Service and Field Operations Jesus Mateo said the Comelec is responsible for identifying the replacement for teachers who choose not to serve during the elections.

"May mga committee po iyan like board of canvassers, election returns committee na sinasalihan ng teachers, may hierarchy iyan na hindi ko lang maalala pero definitely kasama diyan ang kapulisan natin at members of the community na pwedeng humalili sa committee (There are committees such as board of canvassers, election returns committee which teachers join, there's a hierarchy which I don't remember but definitely the policemen are included and members of the community who can assist the committee)," he said.

So far, DepEd has not received information from the Philippine National Police about areas tagged as election hotspots, Malaluan said.

"The Comelec will have to consult with other agencies about the election hotspots... as it is the top agency as to the sequencing of election events... but we will take action, if the department is informed of it, to protect our teachers in places where extreme security, protection must be taken," he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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