Bets prohibited from speaking in graduation rites

NATIONAL and local bets for the May 13 elections are strictly prohibited from promoting their candidacies during graduation ceremonies in all primary and secondary public schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) warned.

In a phone interview Monday, Jenielito S. Atillo, spokesperson for DepEd-Davao Region, said this issue is going to be the "major concern" of the department since commencement ceremonies, which "must be free from political-color," are slated in the months of March and April.

"Dili ta pwede naay kinikilingan na politico. Our horizon is not into that. Ang atoa lang we have to do what is mandated by law," Atillo said.

He said politicians are barred from giving inspirational speeches during graduation ceremonies or plainly just be one of the guests as it is already sending electoral messages to larger guest audience.

Atillo said he is appealing to the candidates -- whether they are new faces and reelectionists -- to never use "the sacred activity" for their election propaganda since it is a "celebration for harvest" after all the hard work of the students.

He said DepEd officials, who will be attending the rites, will double check during the event itself.

Should there be any violation, Atillo said administrative sanctions will be imposed against the school concerned.

He said all complaints will be validated so that accused school will undergo due process for them to have an avenue to explain their side on the allegations.

Atillo also said schools are not poster areas since it will be used as voting precincts during on May 13.

He said school administrators are advised to report and inform the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for any posters or streamers hanged inside and within the vicinity of the institution.

The Comelec, on the other hand, shall be responsible for the removal of posters in prohibited areas.

The Comelec has reminded national and local candidates to observe common poster areas designated by the poll body.

Lawyer Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio, Davao City Election officer for the first district, said posting of election propaganda in bridges, shrines, trees, school (even outside the fence especially in front), public building and structures, electric posts and wires, and outside designated common poster areas is prohibited.

Comelec Resolution 9615, promulgated last January 15, provides that parties and candidates may post any lawful campaign material in authorized common poster areas in public places, subject to the requirements and/or limitations set by the Comelec.

Ampoloquio said violators will be given notices to remove the posters.

Should the candidates refused to follow the order, the task force will be the one to take down the posters. (Arianne Caryl N. Casas)
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