By Leslie Aquino, April 12 2019; Manila Bulletin

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The Department of Interior and Local Government on Friday endorsed to the Commission on Elections the supposed complaints of citizens against barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials allegedly engaged in partisan political activities.

“This is the transmittal of complaints by our citizens against barangay and SK officials, who are openly participating in campaign activities,” DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said in an interview.

He said the poll body should evaluate if there is value in the complaint.

“We know that there is a joint memorandum by the COMELEC and Civil Service Commission that is tied up with the Omnibus Election Code saying it is prohibited for civil servants to engage in campaign activities,” said Densing.

According to the DILG official, the complaints they endorsed to the poll body initially include 52 barangay and SK officials.

These cases, Densing said are from Misamis Oriental, Taguig, Cavite, Bulacan, Caloocan, and Quezon City.

“Hopefully, after Holy Week we can submit another batch,” he said.

Sought for comment, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said, “We have to wait for them to file verified complaints.”

“There has to be sworn affidavits, where an investigation by the COMELEC will be based for possible election offenses,” he said.

Earlier, poll lawyer Romulo Macalintal said there is no law prohibiting any barangay official from campaigning for or against a candidate in any election.

What is described by law as “non-partisan”, he said is the barangay election and not the barangay officials.

“Section 38 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) says: the barangay election shall be non-partisan which means that the barangay candidates cannot be nominated by any political party during the barangay election. Clearly, the law does not say that the barangay officials shall be non-partisan. To reiterate, it is the election that is required to be non-partisan,” said Macalintal.

He added that only appointed civil service officers and employees, and not elected officials, are prohibited from engaging, directly or indirectly, in partisan political activities or any form of electioneering as provided under Section 2(4), Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution.