LAST Monday, February 18, the Department of Education issued Department Order No. 2 s.2019, or the School Year 2018-2019 K to 12 Basic Education Program End of School Year Rites.
In the said order, DepEd reiterated that graduation rites must be simple but meaningful to encourage civil rights, a sense of community, and personal responsibility. This means that while these events mark a significant achievement in the lives of the graduates, these rites can be conducted even without excessive spending, extravagant attire or extraordinary venue.
DepEd also reminded schools, both public and private, that non-academic projects such field trips, film showing, JS proms, and other school event should not be imposed as requirements for graduation or completion.
Since the expenses to be incurred in the conduct of these graduation rites especially in public schools is incorporated in the School Maintenance and Other operating Expenses (MOOE), DepEd also stressed that no DepEd personnel shall be allowed to collect any kind of contribution or fee for graduation and moving up ceremonies.
At the same time, as the graduation rites fall under the election campaign period, DepEd also reiterated that these school activities must be conducted in appropriate solemn ceremony befitting the learners and their parents and shall not be used as a political forum. Teaching and non-teaching personnel and school principals of public schools, who are also considered as government employees are also reminded to strictly comply with DepEd Order No. 48 s.2018 entitled Prohibition of Electioneering and Partisan Political Activity.
As civil servants, teachers and non-teaching staff, school principals, and other DepEd employees are prohibited to engage in any electioneering or partisan political activity as stated in the Omnibus Election Code. To further ensure compliance to these provisions, the Civil Service Commission issued CSC Resolution No. 1600298 dated March 29, 2016 that also stresses the need to ensure that “government workers remain focused on the affairs of the government, to do away with the spoils system, and to shield public servants from the vagaries of politics.”
In particular, the following are regarded as partisan political activities, which refer to acts designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or party to public office:
· forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees, or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/ or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate/party;
· holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes and/ or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate/party;
· making speeches, announcements, or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate or party for public office;
· publishing, displaying, or distributing campaign literature, or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate or party;
· directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges, or support for or against a candidate or party;
· being a delegate to any political convention, or a member of any political committee or directorate, or an officer of any political club or other similar political organizations;
· receiving any contributions for political purposes, either directly or indirectly;
· becoming publicly identified with the success or failure of any candidate/ s or party/ies; 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 the Commission on Elections;
· Being a watcher for a political party or candidate during the election;
· Consistent presence in political rallies, caucuses of, and continuous companionship with certain political candidates and/ or political party in said political activities, causing the employee to be closely identified with such candidate and/ or political party;
· Giving personal, financial or other monetary contributions, supplies, equipment and materials for the benefit of a candidate and/ or political party;
· Utilizing government resources such as personnel, including job order or contract of service hirees, time, and properties for political purposes;
· Distributing handbills/leaflets;
· Attendance at political meetings and caucuses; and
· Distribution of letters indicating intention to run for public office.