COMMISSION on Elections chairman Andres Bautista maintained on Friday there is nothing unconstitutional in the agency’s implementing rules and regulation and insisted that civil servants are prohibited from engaging in partisan politics.
“As a student of our Constitution, I can recall that if you are a civil service employee, you are part of the democracy but you are not allowed to engage in a partisan political activity,” Bautista said in reaction to the complaint of deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
Valte griped on Thursday against the agency’s rules which, she said, was a prior restraint and an infringement of the right to free speech.
But Bautista assured Valte that she can freely express her political views for or against any candidate because jurisprudence on the matter has already established that she is not covered by the prohibition.
“If your are a political appointee, you are not prohibited [from engaging in partisan politics],” Bautista said, adding that elected officials are also not covered by the prohibition.
“The President himself is not prohibited. Cabinet members are not barred because they are appointed officials,” Bautista said.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10049, “personal opinions, views, and preferences for candidates, contained in blogs and micro-blogs, shall not be considered as acts of election campaigning or partisan political activity unless expressed by government officials in the Executive Department, the Legislative Department, the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, and members of the Civil Service.”
Violation of the said provision will constitute an election offense, which carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification from holding public office.
But Bautista said they are looking at the possibility of issuing a clarification on the said provision of their Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Fair Elections Act for the May 2016 polls.
“We want to clarify this provision in the resolution,” said Bautista.