The 1987 Philippine Constitution clearly prohibits any officer or employee in the civil service to engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign. However, under the Administrative Code of 1987, any officer or employee is not prohibited from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of candidates for public office whom he supports. It also provides that public officers and employees holding political offices may take part in political and electoral activities but it shall be unlawful for them to solicit contributions from their subordinates prohibited in the Election Code.
A similar provision under the Civil Service Act of 1959 also prohibits officers and employees in the civil service, whether in the competitive or classified, or non-competitive or unclassified service, to engage directly or indirectly in partisan political activities or take part in any election except to vote. But the said provision does not prevent any officer or employee from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of candidates for public office whom he supports.
The Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, which is the basic law on election, also provides that any officers or employee in the civil service, except those holding political offices; any officer, employee, or member of the Armed forces of the Philippines, or any police force, special forces, home defense forces, barangay self-defense units and all other para-military units that now exist or which may hereafter be organized who, directly or indirectly, intervenes in any election campaign or engages in any partisan political activity, except to vote to preserve public order, if he is a peace officer shall be guilty of an election offense.
In the case of People vs. De Venecia, partisan political activity includes every form of solicitation of the elector’s vote in favor of a specific candidate. It includes contribution of money for election purposes and distribution of handbills.
While pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 9615, the term “election campaign” or “partisan political activity” refers to an act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office, and shall include any of the following:
- 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;
- Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades or other similar assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate;
- Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office;
- Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; or
- Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against any candidate.
Personal opinions, views, and preferences for candidates, contained in blogs shall not be considered 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.
And as provided for under Sec. 264 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, any person found guilty of any election offense under the said Code shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon such party after criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been found guilty.