THE Department of Education in Davao region (Deped 11) urged public school officials to refrain from inviting candidates as guest speakers or accept awards from them during graduation ceremonies or recognition exercises to prevent supposed partisan political activities ahead of the May elections.
“We only allow if they have been identified early in the school year but now the advice really is please do not dip your fingers unto that because you might be trudging into possible critical water. Because you do not have control what these candidates will say on top of the stage and even their mere presence is already something for the electorates,” Deped 11 spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said during the media forum at The Royal Mandaya Hotel on Wednesday, March 13.
“Please don’t accept because you might be facing problems. You might make one happy by accepting it but what about the opponents? And there’s no control anymore because if you accept one, and others might follow suit,” he added.
Not even medals with the candidate’s name, ribbons or even tarpaulins are allowed.
“We made it very very very clear to the field that’s a no-no,” he underscored.
Although no regulation is violated when candidates running for a public post are invited to deliver speeches during graduation ceremonies, Atillo said they are not downplaying possible campaigning by the candidates.
He said DepEd must uphold the Constitution by staying apolitical.
“My personal advice for schools specifically principals, who are the ones identifying the speaker in graduation or recognition exercises, is to refrain from inviting politicians or candidates because there might be a problem later on,” he added.
Meanwhile, Atillo reiterated that there must be no compulsory collection of fees for graduation rites or mandatory payment for yearbooks among the students, particularly in public schools. In private schools, according to him, contributions may be allowed as long as parents are informed.
He said students must still be allowed to march during the graduation ceremony regardless if he or she was or was not able to pay the necessary graduation fees required by the school.
“We also maintain the utilization of toga. Yearbook will always be voluntary and never compulsory. Even if there is one kid marching without a toga, that’s allowed. We cannot allow any school make a roadblock out of that thing nga dili pa graduaton or pamarchahon (not allowing them to graduate),” Atillo said.
Asked on the number of students who will be graduating this year, he said that they are still finalizing the list for elementary and senior high school passers.
“They are still in the process, given one week we can now identify as to how many will make it for school year 2018-2019. This will be relative to the performance, grade and in general the performance of the kids for the whole school year,” Atillo said.
Meanwhile, amid confusion should there be a graduation or moving up ceremonies for Grade 6 students, he said that it will still be graduation but the executive committee is still discussing whether to retain it for the next school year.
“Right now, we are confirming na it’s now graduation again for our Grade 6 but talks are [ongoing] with our officials pertaining to that issue because the fact remains that there's only one curriculum and one basic education program for the country and we maintain that there must only one graduation,” Atillo said.