Barangay execs barred from engaging in partisan politics – Comelec

ELECTED barangay officials are barred from engaging in partisan political activities during the campaign period for the May 9 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Tuesday.

Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said the law provides that barangay officials must be non-partisan and does not support any political party.

"The law is clear on that aspect. They have to follow the law, mainly the Local Government Code. They should be neutral in the way they provide services to their constituents. And they are not supposed to belong to any political party," he said in a press conference.

Bautista warned that they are prepared to implement the law if there are any elected barangay officials that will be found to be engaged in such activities.

"If it is a criminal charge, then the Comelec is ready to take charge," he added.

The poll body chief explained that elected barangay officials are not among the officers and employees that are considered as occupying political offices.

Those exempted are the President, Vice President, Cabinet members, as well as elected provincial, city, and municipal officials as they are considered as occupying political offices.

Meanwhile, the Comelec and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) signed Tuesday a Joint Memorandum Circular reminding civil servants that they are not allowed to participate in partisan political activities.

CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said the prohibition covers all civil servants in all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the government, including government-owned and –controlled corporations.

"Civil servants are mandated by law to uphold political neutrality in the conduct of our duties during election season," she said.

Likewise covered by the prohibition are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"An official or employees on leave of absence are still covered by the prohibition on electioneering," she added.

Bautista said violations of the said prohibition is tantamount to committing an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification to hold public office.

"We are supposed to be an independent constitutional commission. We don’t want to be seen as picking on particular government officials or employees. Our neutrality also may be questioned. So, as much as possible, we would act on complaint if there are ones filed with our respective offices," he said.

Bala added that administrative sanctions may also be meted with a penalty of one to six month suspension for the first offense and dismissal from service for second offense. (FP/Sunnex)
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