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NAVAL, Biliran – The latest joint advisory issued by the two constitutional bodies which excluded the use of social media functions as an act of electioneering and partisan political activity has clarified the limits for its use among civil servants during campaign period.

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The Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued Joint Circular No. 001, Series of 2016 on March 29, 2016, an advisory on electioneering and political activity.

The CSC-Comelec joint circular specifically states in its purpose that it is issued to advise and remind all officers and employees of the Philippine Government, including any of its agencies, subdivisions, and instrumentalities, of the constitutional, statutory, and other regulatory prohibitions against engaging in any electioneering or partisan political activities.

It is also aimed at “ensuring that members of the civil service and the armed forces shall remain focus on the efficient discharge of their duties and functions; to do away with the “spoils system” which is anathema to the principles of meritocracy at the heart of the Philippine civil service system and military service; and to shield officers and employees of the civil service and the armed forces from the vagaries of politics”, it said.

Pharida Q. Aurelia, Director II, Civil Service Commission-Biliran Field Office, clarified to the members and officers of the Provincial Council of Personnel Officers (PCPO) in Biliran province during its second regular quarterly meeting on April 11, 2016, that social media functions like liking, commenting, sharing, re-posting or following a candidate’s or party’s account is one of the six listed acts enumerated in the joint circular that are deemed excluded from the coverage of electioneering and partisan political activity.

However, the lady chief of CSC-Biliran categorically stated that liking, commenting, sharing, re-posting or following a candidate’s or party’s account are considered electioneering and partisan political activity when “used as means to solicit support for or against a candidate or party during campaign period.”

“There is a thin line” Aurelia refers to the provision in the joint circular that separates what acts are considered electioneering or partisan political activity regarding the use of social media functions.

She emphasized to personnel officers of the national government agencies, local government units and public utilities stationed in the province of Biliran to just follow the guidelines stipulated in the joint CSC-Comelec circular on electioneering and political activity to avoid facing election offenses. # (fj/rvictoria/PIA 8 Biliran)

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