11 February 2022 - As the country began the official campaign period for the 2022 national and local elections, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) reminded civil servants not to engage in electioneering and partisan political activity.

The CSC said that such acts are prohibited under the 1987 Constitution and other laws and statutes, with the aim to ensure that civil servants are focused on the discharge of their duties and functions and to insulate them from politics.

Under Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) Joint Circular No. 001, series of 2016 dated 29 March 2016, electioneering and partisan political activity refers to any act “designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate/s or party/ies to public office.” These include the following prohibited 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/party;
• Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate/party;
• Making speeches, announcements, or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate/party for public office;
• Publishing, displaying, or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate/party; or
• Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges, or support for or against a candidate/party.

In addition, being a delegate to any political convention, or a member of any political committee or directorate, or an officer of any political club or other similar political organizations; receiving any contributions for political purposes, either directly or indirectly; and becoming publicly identified with the success or failure of any candidate/s or party/ies are also considered partisan political activities and are grounds for disciplinary action.

The said joint circular also identifies the following as prohibited acts:

• Wearing of tshirts or pins, caps, or any other similar election paraphernalia bearing the names of the candidates or political party except as authorized by the Commission on Elections;
• 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 in said political activities, causing the employee to be closely identified with such candidate and/or political party;
• Giving personal, financial, or other monetary contribution, supplies, equipment, and materials for the benefit of a candidate and/or political party;
• Utilizing government resources such as personnel including job orders or contract of service hires, time, and properties for political purposes.

The CSC clarified, however, that civil servants are not barred from casting their votes; expressing their views on current political problems or issues; mentioning the names of candidates or parties whom they support; expressing their opinions or engaging in discussions of probable issues in a forthcoming election; or liking, commenting, sharing, reposting, and following a candidate’s/party’s account, unless these are resorted as a means to solicit support for or against a candidate/party during the campaign period.

As stated in the COMELEC-CSC Joint Circular No. 001, Series of 2016, the following are prohibited from engaging in any electioneering or partisan political activities:

• 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, whether their appointments are permanent, temporary, contractual, or even casual;
• Career officers holding political offices in an acting or officer in-charge (OIC) capacity; and
• Uniformed and active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Furthermore, an employee on leave of absence is still covered by the prohibition on electioneering or partisan political activities.

Those who will be found guilty of engaging directly or indirectly in partisan political activities will be meted with a penalty of one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months suspension for the first offense; and dismissal from the service for the second offense according to the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service or 2017 RACCS.

The complete text of COMELEC-CSC Joint Circular No. 001, series of 2016 can be accessed here.