TO ENSURE that teachers and school remained “politics-free,” the Department of Education (DepEd) has launched the “Clean Schools, Clean Election” campaign.

The campaign will be in effect for the entire election period and until the outcome of the May 10 elections at the national and local levels are determined.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the program contained in a memorandum he issued will minimize and prevent any conflict of interest situations, which can compromise the teacher's integrity, especially since they are to serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) in the coming elections.

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“This program aims to ensure that our schools and teachers are protected from overt politicking,” Lapus stated in his order to all DepEd officials and teachers.

Among the salient provisions of the memorandum is the prohibition of the posting of campaign materials on school properties with the warning that violators will be prosecuted.

“Since the school is a polling place for the elections, no campaign materials (posters, tarpaulins, billboards etc) shall be allowed to be posted or hung within the school premises including grounds in front of the schools and areas around it such as walls, fences and sidewalks,” the order said.

“Election materials to be posted or distributed within school premises shall be limited to those specifically authorized under election law and only for the prescribed period,” it added.

It directed school heads to immediately remove illegally posted campaign materials within their school premises.

Likewise, school personnel and teachers are prohibited from getting involved in the distribution of campaign materials, particularly within the school premises.

While the order allowed the holding of political rallies in schools it mandated that it should not interfere with the holding of regular classes.

“Political rallies and public meetings must not be scheduled during school days while classes are ongoing. Organizers of the said gatherings must first secure the necessary permits from the proper local government officials pursuant to the requirement of local ordinances on the issuance of permits,” the order further said.

Organizers are also directed to clean up the school sorroundings and removed propaganda and campaign materials after the rally or meeting.

Candidates and their supporters were warned that schools are off-limits to their posters, streamers and other campaign paraphernalia.

Lapus earlier issued a similar warning after receiving reports of campaign posters being pasted on school walls not only in Metro Manila but in other areas of the country in violation of the guidelines of the Commission on Election (Comelec).

He also appealed to candidates and their supporters to respect the non-partisan status of schools and teachers and spare them from any political activity.

According to the poll body, campaign materials are deemed to be illegal if the size of posters made of cloth or paper exceeds two feet by three feet. Posters in places where a public meeting or rally is to be held are allowed the maximum size of three feet by eight feet. These may be displayed five days before the event and must be removed within 24 hours after it.

Posters may only be placed in areas designated as common poster areas by local election offices.

Posting of campaign materials on streets, bridges, public buildings, trees, electric posts and wires, schools, religious shrines and main thoroughfares is strictly prohibited. (AH/Sunnex)