Harsh words vs local gov’t on social media could get Davao City hall employees in trouble

DAVAO CITY – Davao City Hall workers, who will criticize the local government on their personal social media accounts, could face dismissal from service.

This after the city government of Davao issued a memorandum order, prescribing penalties against any of its employees violating the Memorandum Order No. 019-2020 on the “Social Media Guidelines for City Government Personnel” dated July 24.

The memorandum order was released at a time when the city was grappling with a coronavirus disease outbreak.

The memorandum order, signed by City Administrator Zuleika Lopez, required employees to “exercise caution and mindfulness when posting and sharing information using personal social media accounts”.

In the order, city government employees were directed to refrain from posting demeaning and malicious comments on the agency’s policies, directives, and city-initiated projects and activities.

It added that they must avoid posting hate speech and disparaging comments about the office operations and co-employee, and advised them to follow the formal process of addressing issues if they feel mistreated or frustrated with any aspect at work.

They were also advised to avoid “sharing agency information such as, but not limited to the following, policy guidelines, directives, resolutions, decisions, and opinions which are not yet officially approved”.

Excessive use of social media that interferes with official work duties and performance, and refrain from making comments or contributions on behalf of the office without consent or approval from the department head should also be avoided.

There should also be no disclosure of confidential information or matters concerning the city government of Davao.

First-time offenders will be reprimanded, second-time offenders will be meted suspension of one to 30 days, while third-time offenders could face dismissal from service.

And for contract of service or job order personnel, the order provides that “it will be a valid ground for termination or cancellation of the contract as stipulated in its terms and conditions.”

Citing Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the order provides that public officials and employees are duty-bound to use social media responsibly and to follow strictly the provisions of the law.

It said that Section 2 states that “public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives and uphold public interest over personal interest.”

It added that Section 4.b provides that “public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence, and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.”