Group wants gov’t officials investigated and prosecuted for partisan activities

A PARTYLIST coalition asked on both the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to investigate and file the appropriate administrative charges before the Ombudsman against officials who have been allowing candidates to use government facilities and equipment.

The call was made by lawyer Aaron Pedrosa, secretary general and nominee of Sanlakas partylist after both agencies issued a joint circular Tuesday for the upcoming elections, signed by Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and CSC chairperson Alicia dela Rosa.

According to Pedrosa, “The release of the circular by agencies to forewarn state employees from directly campaigning or favoring certain candidates is a standard operating procedure to maintain impartiality but what is rare is the prosecution of erring officials despite its prevalence in the entire country and the clarity of the rules stipulated in the Omnibus Election Code”.

“If the credibility of the 2016 national elections as well as the agencies involved is at stake, the electoral regulations must be taken seriously. Commissioners Bautista and Dela Rosa must have the political will to enforce the law and be on-guard against those abusive of their authority,” he added.

Pedrosa, a lawyer by profession cited recent viral photos in social media that showed red-plated vehicles being used to put up campaign materials in Cebu province and in Laguna where it seemed that barangay vehicles were used to ferry people to attend the campaign sorties of the Liberal Party.

He lamented that the photos despite being heavily circulated on social media the past weeks has not received ample attention from both Commissions.

“Because of this, the joint circular shall only be taken lightly and dismissed by incorrigible and abusive officials”.

The young lawyer likewise said that the circular was “questionable and problematic” since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the constitutional ban does not cover elected officials including those at the barangay level “because elected officials, by the very nature of their office, engage in partisan political almost all year round, even outside of the campaign period. Political partisanship is the inevitable essence of a political office, elective positions included.

Despite this Sanlakas believes that the SC ruling reinforces and legitimizes political patronage and will only lead to tying the majority of the population to poverty, subjugation to the whims of the entrenched political dynasties and furthers their disengagement from the affairs of the state.

“Besides a firm political will to enforce electoral regulations, there is a need to take a second look at these decrees and institute wide-scale electoral reforms to ensure that the guilty are punished and the ordinary folk encouraged to participate fully in matters of governance and not only once in every three years,” Pedrosa concluded.