Davao City Hall workers criticizing city gov’t on social media face dismissal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 Aug) – The city government of Davao has threatened to dismiss any of its workers criticizing it on their personal social media accounts as it issued a memorandum order prescribing penalties for violations to the social media guidelines for city hall personnel.

The Davao City Hall. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

The memorandum order was issued last month as the city was grappling with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Memorandum Order No. 019-2020 on the “Social Media Guidelines for City Government Personnel” dated July 24 and signed by City Administrator Zuleika Lopez required employees to “exercise caution and mindfulness when posting and sharing information using personal social media accounts.”

According to the order, employees are directed to refrain from posting demeaning and malicious comments on the city government’s policies, directives, and city-initiated projects and activities.

It added that they must avoid posting hate speech and disparaging comments about the office operations and co-employees, and advised them to follow the formal process of addressing issues if they feel mistreated or frustrated with any aspect at work; avoid sharing of agency information such as, but not limited to the following: policy guidelines, directives, resolutions, decisions, and opinions which are not yet officially approved; prevent excessive use of social media that interferes with official work duties and performance; refrain from making comments or contributions on behalf of the office without consent or approval from the department head; and avoid disclosure of confidential information or matters concerning the City Government of Davao.

First-time offenders will be reprimanded, suspension of one to 30 days for second-time offenders, and dismissal from service for third-time offenders, according to the order.

But for the contract of service or job order personnel, the order provides that “it will be a valid ground for termination or cancellation of the contract as stipulated in its terms and conditions.”

Citing Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the order provides that public officials and employees are duty-bound to use social media responsibly and to follow strictly the provisions of the law.

It said that Section 2 states that “public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives and uphold public interest over personal interest.”

Also, it added that Section 4.b provides that “public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence, and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)