Photo: Sillimanian Comelec Commissioner urges the public to report politicians taking advantage of the government’s vaccination rollout to campaign for next year’s election. (Screen grab from SU’s online forum)

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) urged the public to document government officials allegedly taking advantage of the government’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout to campaign for the coming 2021 polls.

“That’s wrong!” exclaimed Comelec Commissioner Ma. Rowena Guanzon in an online forum hosted by Silliman University (SU), Saturday, Sept. 25.

Guanzon said people should take videos and pictures and send them to authorities and the press. “All of these you [people] have the power to do,” she said.

The commissioner was responding to a question on reports that some politicians are reportedly using the government’s vaccination as a platform to deliver campaign promises and presentations of their political lineup ahead of the official start of the campaign period.

As early as May 2021, the Interior Department warned public officials not to use the vaccination drive in early campaigning or face investigation.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the 2021 General Appropriations Act prohibits politicians from identifying government projects by attaching their names and pictures.

Various netizens have observed blatant and discreet campaigning of some government officials, with some physically attending each vaccination drive and others giving away freebies and foodpacks with their pictures and names on them.

Guanzon said government resources and programs should not be used in campaigning. “They have no ethics. They have no delicadeza,” the commissioner said

The outspoken commissioner asked the public “not to vote” for these politicians. “We should expose them so that the people know,” she said.

She called on the Commission on Audit and other agencies to look into the allegation. “It’s the people who must resist it,” she said. “How do you expect accountability? If the people don’t expose them.”

Guanzon, an alumna of SU and recipient of the Outstanding Sillimanian Award from Silliman University in August 2015, was appointed to the poll body on February 2015 by Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III. Her term will end in February 2022 along with Chair Sheriff M. Abas and Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. – Ryan Sorote