Campaigning during graduation rites not banned, but...
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With the onset of the graduation season, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) lamented yesterday that there is no prohibition on candidates campaigning during school commencement exercises.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that while verbal campaigning is not banned, candidates should observe delicadeza and spare graduation ceremonies from the campaign. 

He said that Comelec officials cannot do anything if candidates make campaign pitches when they deliver speeches during graduation ceremonies.

“I think it is the school administrators who will have some form of liability (if they invite politicians as speakers) but as far as the Comelec is concerned, we cannot prevent them,” he noted. 

He, however, warned candidates that the poll body prohibits the display of campaign posters in graduation venues or roads leading to these places.

“Graduation halls are not common poster areas, that is for certain,” he added.

Brillantes maintained that “at least now we are saying that it is really not good (campaigning in graduation rites). That will certainly not earn you more votes and may even backfire.”

The campaign period for senatorial candidates and party-list groups started last Feb. 12, while the campaign for those seeking local posts would begin on March 29. 

Meanwhile, a lawmaker warned school officials that public schools nationwide should not demand graduation fees from poor students as this violates the order of the Department of Education (DepEd).

Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, a senatorial candidate from the administration coalition Team PNoy, said they already received reports that some public schools continue to charge fees despite complaints from parents and students.

“I think it would do well for our public schools to avoid creating further burden to students as most of them come from poor families. What we should do is help them to graduate,” Angara said in a speech at the National College of Science and Techonolgy in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Angara, chairman of the House committee on education, revealed that DepEd’s DeTXT Action Center has received 180 complaints against schools that continue to collect graduation fees and defy the order.

“Graduations are special occasions and should be celebrated, most definitely. But their significance should not be seen as diminished if they are spartan as what Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro urged schools to do,” he said.

Angara said the educational system should be structured such that the only things that keep students from graduating are their grades and proven academic competence, and not whether they have the capacity to pay.

He said the problems facing public schools include the lack of funds for students’ scholarships, school infrastructure and higher salaries of teachers, low quality of education and limited access to quality education, and higher rate of violence and student dropout. – With Delon Porcalla



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