Valte questions Comelec censorship of gov't officials
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - February 3, 2016 - 8:44pm

MANILA, Philippines - Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Thursday expressed concern over the Commission on Elections' order censoring government officials from posting their political opinions online.

Valte cited a section of the new Comelec implementing rules which states that government officials expressing personal opinions for candidates on social media is considered electioneering.

"Ang labas, censorship on all public servants. Effective prior restraint. Freedom of speech, anyone? Kelan pa bumalik ang Martial Law? Di ba 2016 na?" Valte said on a post on Facebook.

Just read the new COMELEC implementing rules. Section 4 (e) is particularly alarming: The act of government officials of...

Posted by Abi Dela Fuente Valte on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The new Comelec provision on social media censorship covers government officials from the executive, legislative, judiciary, constitutional commissions and members of civil service.

"Beginning February 9, if I tweet or post "Candidate Y is a douchebag" then I may be prosecuted for an election offense," Valte said.

The Palace official cited Section 55 of the Administrative Code which states that, "Nothing herein provided shall be understood to prevent any officer or employee from expressing his views on current political problems or issues, or from mentioning the names of his candidates for public office whom he supports."

Valte noted that there must be clear and present danger to public safety and public interest for such censorship to be allowed under the Constitution.

"Put another way, how will my posting of 'I don't like Candidate XY because his pigs live in an airconditioned pen' pose a clear and present danger to public safety?" the Palace official added.

Meanwhile, the Comelec launched a "shame campaign" against candidates who grab attention by putting up unlawful campaign materials during the campaign period.

“We want the public to take photos of violators and then provide us with details. We will act on them,” Comelec Chair Juan Andres Bautista earlier said.

RELATED: Shame campaign launched vs epal bets

ABI DELA FUENTE VALTE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE BEGINNING FEBRUARY CAMPAIGN CANDIDATE Y COMELEC COMELEC CHAIR JUAN ANDRES BAUTISTA DEPUTY PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABIGAIL VALTE MARTIAL LAW QUOT VALTE
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