“No officer or employee in the civil service, as well as any member of the military, shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political activity, except to vote,” said Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala quoting the 1987 Philippine Constitution. “Civil servants are mandated by law to uphold political neutrality in the conduct of our duties even during election season,” she added.
The CSC and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), both independent constitutional commissions, issued Joint Circular No. 001, series of 2016 to remind public servants of their sworn duty to uphold this constitutional provision. The provision, however, does not preclude a civil servant, from expressing his or her views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of candidates whom he or she supports, according to the Administrative Code of 1987.
The circular also clarified that “social media functions such as liking, commenting, sharing, re-posting, or following a candidate’s or party’s account,” unless meant to solicit support for or against a candidate or party during the campaign period is allowed.
The prohibition covers all members of the civil service in all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the Philippine Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and state universities and colleges. Uniform and active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are also covered by the prohibition. An official or employee on leave of absence is still covered by the prohibition on electioneering or partisan political activity.
Meanwhile, officials or employees holding political offices such as the President, Vice President, cabinet members, elective local officials except barangay officials, the staff of the abovementioned officials, and members of the reserve corps of the AFP are excluded from the prohibition.
Engaging in partisan political activity refers to an act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office.
Existing laws and rules identified the following as partisan political activities:
- 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;
- Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate;
- Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office;
- Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; or
- Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges, or support for or against a candidate.
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 9, series of 1992 identifies the following as prohibited acts:
- Wearing of t-shirts, pins, caps, or any other similar election paraphernalia bearing the names of candidates and/or political parties;
- 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, making one closely identified with such candidates or party;
- Giving, soliciting, or receiving financial or monetary contributions, supplies, equipment, and materials for the benefit of a candidate and/or political party; and
- Utilizing government resources such as personnel, including job order or contract of service hirees, time, and properties for political purposes.
Those who will be found guilty of engaging directly or indirectly in partisan political activities will be meted with the penalty of one month and one day suspension to six months for the first offense; and dismissal from the service for the second offense according to the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (CSC Resolution No. 1101502 dated November 18, 2011).