The Philippine national government warned all government employees nationwide not to participate in any activities related to political campaigns during the election period. According to COMELEC’s provision all government employees are barred from campaigning for or against particular candidates – even on social media – but are free to share their personal views.
A joint circular was already issued by the COMELEC and the Civil Service Commission which was signed by Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and CSC chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala states that:
“It’s very clear, ‘di ba, sabi niya (circular), even if you follow a candidate’s account, [puwede] unless these are resorted to a means to solicit support for or against a candidate or party during the campaign period,” Dela Rosa-Bala said.
She added: “Kung sabihin [mo] kung sino ang iboboto [mo], that’s not covered because that’s part of your expression of your choice for the positions being voted for… ‘Pag sinabi mong ‘I’m voting for Candidate X,’ that’s not part of the coverage. [Pero iba] if you’re asking, ‘Please vote for the candidate I’m voting for.'”
The Comelec and CSC noted also that government employees are allowed “social media functions such as liking, commenting, sharing, reposting, or following a candidate or party’s account” provided that they do not “directly or indirectly” campaign for their preferred candidates.
They are also allowed to express their views on current political problems or issues, as well as mention the name of the candidates or parties they support but are not allowed to receive contributions for political purposes, nor give personal, financial, or other monetary contribution for a candidate or party’s campaign.
They are also not allowed to wear shirts, pins, caps, or other similar paraphernalia to support a candidate or a party, or serve as watchers on election day. Moreover, they are prohibited from utilizing government resources such as personnel, time, properties for campaigning.
The violations committed by government employees may be seen as an administrative offense under the CSC and as election offense under Comelec. The penalties range from suspension to dismissal, imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and “deprivation of right to vote.”