Monday, April 18, 2016

DFA warns PHL diplomats: Don’t campaign on social media

The Department of Foreign Affairs has reminded Filipino diplomats to maintain its political neutrality and to avoid campaigning for candidates, particularly on social media, warning that such action is an election offense punishable by law.
A memorandum dated April 12, 2016 was issued to Philippine Foreign Service posts, officials and personnel in Manila by Foreign Undersecretary and concurrent Chairman of the Overseas Voting Secretariat Rafael Seguis for them to strictly adhere to the joint circular of the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Elections on March 29, 2016 and a separate Civil Service Commission resolution issued on the same date.
“All posts are hereby reminded all DFA officers, personnel and those who are deputized to discharge the duties of various electoral boards for overseas voting to remain apolitical and refrain from electioneering activities,” the memorandum obtained by GMA News Online said.
The Civil Service Commission’s March 29, 2016 resolution states that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political activity.”
Engaging in partisan political activity as defined by the joint Comelec-CSC resolution “refers to an act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office.”
In a separate interview, Seguis said he issued the reminder to all Foreign Service Posts and in the Home Office after receiving reports that some diplomats are allegedly engaging in partisan political activities, specifically on social media.
“The memo was issued due to unconfirmed reports of electioneering, many of which are circulating in the social media,” Seguis said.
Although social media functions, such as liking, commenting, sharing, re-posting, or following a candidate’s or party’s account are allowed, using it as a means to “solicit support for or against a candidate or party during the campaign period” is considered a violation.
Seguis said the Comelec and the DFA “found it timely to remind everybody concerned on the pertinent laws and regulations so as to prevent violations, thus contributing to the transparency and credibility of the electoral process.”
The DFA, meanwhile, is verifying some of the reported electioneering activities by its diplomats.
“We are looking into it,” Seguis said.
The Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service dated Nov. 18, 2011 states that 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.” — RSJ, GMA News
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