NO TO NEUTRALITY: Respect the right to free speech of government employees

NO TO NEUTRALITY: Respect the right to free speech of government employees

With just a week left before election day, the Department of Education (DepEd) emphasized once again released a statement that teachers and non-teaching personnel should not engage in electioneering and partisan political activities.

“We call on our DepEd officials and personnel to uphold political neutrality in the government service and maintain professionalism in the discharge of their duties,” the agency said in its statement.

First of all, it must be emphasized that Article III, section 4 of the 1987 Constitution guarantees the people’s right to free speech and expression.

Next, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) is not totally restricting government employees’ right to free speech in the context of elections. Based on CSC’s Joint Circular No. 001, series of 2016 with the Commission on Elections, government employees can do the following:

1) Cast their votes;

2) Express their views on current political problems or issues;

3) Mentioning the names of candidates or parties whom they support;

4) Express their opinions or engaging in discussions of probable issues in a forthcoming election; or liking, commenting, sharing, reposting, and

5) Following a candidate’s/party’s social media account

As a quick side note: Is it really possible to discuss political problems or issues without mentioning political personalities?

As a final point, the emphasis on neutrality is problematic. If one party says it is raining hard while the other one says the sun is shining brightly, the teacher should be able to teach students how to verify which side is telling the truth.

It will be a big disservice to the profession if teachers are unable to teach students how to think critically, especially during a crucial time in our nation’s history.

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Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here: https://www.filipinoscribe.com/about/.

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