COMMUNICATIONS Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar is exempted from the prohibition on government officials from campaigning for any candidates in the 2019 midterm national and local elections, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, February 22.
Duterte issued the statement after Andanar represented former special assistant to the President and senatorial hopeful Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go in a campaign sortie of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) held in San Juan City on Thursday, February 21.
In a chance interview, the President said Andanar was an "exception" to the rule, noting that the Communications official was an "ideologue" since the latter is the son of Wencelito "Wency" Andanar who is one of the original members of the PDP-Laban.
"The crowd there should understand what PDP [Laban] is fighting for. Siya yung... You know, ang tatay niyan si Wency. Wency is the original sa PDP. He's an ideologue. He would need a guidance and I can only think of Secretary Andanar who can do it well. That is why he is an exception," Duterte said on the sidelines of an event at Palace's Rizal Hall.
"But Andanar, he's an ideologue. His guidance is very important to all members of the PDP members. He's a son of one of the founding fathers of PDP-Laban," he added.
On February 8, or days prior to the start of the campaign for the 2019 midterm elections, Duterte said he had prohibited Cabinet officials from campaign for any candidates to avoid criticisms that public funds are being used.
Under Section 261(i) of the Omnibus Election Code, any workers in the government, except those holding political offices, are barred from "interven[ing] in any election campaign or engag[ing] in any partisan political activity."
Section 261(o) of the Omnibus Election Code also prohibits the "use of public funds, money deposited in turst, equipment, facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election campaign."
Despite his decision to allow Andanar to campaign for Go, Duterte re-assured that he would not allow the use of taxpayers' money to boost the candidacy of any candidates in the 2019 midterm polls.
"The law says they can't campaign. I did not allow the other members because they will be campaigning if they want to and they will be using government cars, government fuel, and I wanted to remove that kind of issue, just to be fair," he said. (SunStar Philippines)