Abaya to DOTC employees: Tell your families to vote for Roxas, Robredo
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Thursday, March 31, took advantage of his exemption from the campaign ban and urged agency employees in Central Visayas to spread the word about the administration candidates.
In a meeting with regional officials of DOTC agencies, Abaya wrapped up his presentation of the department's accomplishments by encouraging employees to tell their families and friends to vote for Liberal Party (LP) presidential canddiate Manuel Roxas II and running mate Leni Robredo.
He told DOTC employees to tell their family members that they should support the administration bets if they would like to see transportation improvements under the Aquino administration to continue.
Abaya, however, has been widely criticized for the state of Metro Manila's public transportation systems, including the Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit (LRT). He has also drawn flak for problems in the Land Transportation Office and the transportation regulatory board, and the bullet planting racket at the international airports.
In recent weeks Abaya has been visiting the provinces for DOTC-related meetings, where he urges the audience to push for Roxas and Robredo. When he conducted an inspection of the Manila international airport during Holy Week, he also took the time to campaign for his party mates.
The DOTC chief is the president of the LP.
Just last Tuesday, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reiterated that government employees are prohibited from campaigning.
They warned that government employees could face 6 to 12 months of imprisonment and removal from public service if they are caught engaging in partisan activities even on Facebook. (READ: Caught campaigning? Jail awaits gov't employees)
The Omnibus Election Code, however, says in Section 79 that "public expressions or opinions or discussions...on attributes of or criticisms against probable candidates...shall not be construed as part of any election campaign or partisan political activity contemplated under this Article."
The law also exempts Cabinet officials like Abaya from the campaign ban.
Asked by reporters in Cebu why he was using official functions to campaign for his party's standard-bearer, he said: "It's my jurisprudence. Me, as a [Cabinet] secretary, I am authorized to campaign for Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo."
Reelectionist governor and fellow LP member Hilario "Junjun" Davide III joined Abaya at the press conference.
Abaya and Davide said Cebu was ahead of the rest of the country with the development of the Bus Rapid Transit.
The project, funded by international loans and the Philippine government, costs $228 million and seeks to alleviate traffic congestion in the country's 5th most populated city and surrounding areas.
Abaya said that improvements in the DOTC led to growth in tourism and would continue in Cebu and the region under the LP's leadership.
In the vote-rich Cebu, home to 2.7 million voters, 33 of 44 municipal mayors and all 6 of its component cities are members of the LP. – Rappler.com
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