Time to resign
Unfortunately for us less ambitious citizens who have absolutely no plan to run for public office, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ruled as “not engaged in premature campaigning” those annoying politicians who invade our leisure hours with their ubiquitous TV ads, spoil our strolls with tarpaulins where their smiling visage wish everyone a happy fiesta, or despoil the peaceful countryside with their noisy rallies, motorcades and political sorties “to feel the pulse of the masses.”
Such brazen attempts to insert themselves into our psyche months before the campaign period starts are allowed, the law indicates, unless these individuals officially declare themselves as candidates for 2016 by filing their certificate of candidacy (COC).
“A simple declaration that [they] intend to run for office is not tantamount to a COC being filed,” Comelec official James Jimenez said in a press briefing, adding that the election body has set aside Oct. 12 to 16, 2015, for the filing of certificates of candidacy among 2016 poll bets.
Given that the deadline is more than a month away, why expect these august politicians to declare their intentions officially when they can bend the law to get maximum mileage, visibility and name recall before the start of the campaign period?
Postponing their official declaration of candidacy also gives appointive officials an excuse to cling to their posts and engage in partisan activities at government expense. After all, Comelec rules allow them to stay in office until they file their COC.
Once they file their COC, appointive officials are considered resigned, the Comelec official said. The situation is different for elected officials, however, who are not deemed resigned even if they file their COC, Jimenez added.
So far, no would-be candidate has yet filed a COC, nor any appointive official resigned his or her post, a very telling indication of the quality of individuals vying for our votes in 2016.
Among the appointive officials expected to run for elective posts in 2016 are Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general Joel Villanueva, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, and Philhealth director Risa Hontiveros.
Already, Roxas, Villanueva and Hontiveros have paid TV advertisements currently airing, without of course the requisite information indicating which office they are seeking. Not a political ad, see?
While the law cannot fault these appointive officials for holding on to the perks of public office as they have yet to declare their candidacy, a sense of delicadeza, or that very rare commodity among public servants called ethics, should at least compel them to follow the straight and narrow path advocated by their political patron.
To be sure, some appointive officials have maintained that they’re using their own resources or those of their friends and supporters to come up with their ads and buy airtime. They might add that meetings and story conferences related to the production of these ads are conducted outside government offices to avoid “borrowing” official resources, supplies, vehicles and staff.
Still, there’s no denying that government resources include time, which these officials conceivably use to think up and produce their ads instead of attending to the needs of the public for which they have been appointed.
Is the Civil Service Commission looking into how these public servants are squandering government time and office supplies for their personal agenda? Shouldn’t the diversion of government resources for political ends be considered a breach of work ethics, like stealing what rightfully belongs to the public?
These officials may not be violating any election law, but the Comelec should look into how the spirit of the law is being treated lightly and how its intention to level the playing field had been wantonly disregarded.
Isn’t it about time that appointed officials, chosen presumably for their capacity to bring credit to their political patron, let go of their posts and resign to avoid suspicions that they are appropriating government resources to advance their personal ambitions?
No matter the sterling characterization that their “public service announcements” project about them, the true test of these politicians’ worth is how consistent they are to their word and how faithfully they can walk their talk.
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