SouthCot LGU employees engaged in partisan politics to face charges

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 May) – Five department heads and several other career rank-and-file employees of the provincial government of South Cotabato are set to face administrative charges for allegedly engaging in partisan political activities during the campaign period and in the May 13 elections.

South Cotabato governor-elect Daisy Avance-Fuentes said she received reports and some evidences that confirmed the participation of some local government officials and employees who were holding permanent appointments in the campaign activities of her defeated rival, incumbent Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr.

“Some of them openly campaigned (for Pingoy) and were directly involved (in his) political activities,” she said in a radio interview.

Fuentes (Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition), who is returning to the provincial capitol after a single term as representative of the province’s second congressional district, won over Pingoy (United Nationalist Alliance) by around 6,600 votes in last week’s polls.

She was governor of South Cotabato for three straight terms from 2001 to 2010.

Fuentes said the supposed erring officials and employees defied civil service regulations despite the warnings issued earlier by the Civil Service Commission.

Based on the implementing rules and regulations Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act, partisan political campaigning refers to acts designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office.

The revised rules on administrative career in the civil service issued on November 18, 2011, provided that engaging “directly or indirectly in partisan political activities by one holding non-political office” is classified as less grave offense.

If found guilty, erring employees may be suspended from one month and one day to six months for the first offense and possible dismissal from service for the second offense.

Paragraph 4, Section 2 (B), and Section 6 of Article IX of the Philippine Constitution cited that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.”

Fuentes did not name the erring provincial government officials and employees but noted that some of them were “doctors.”

In one instance, she said her campaign personnel chanced upon one official allegedly campaigning for Pingoy in a mountain village in Tantangan town.

“My staff advised that official to just leave the area since he’s not allowed to do so under civil service rules but he just ignored them,” she said.

Fuentes said they are presently building up the cases against the concerned officials and employees through the evidences that they gathered and accounts from witnesses.

She said some of the initial evidences that came up included photographs and video footages taken by concerned residents.