DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers is setting up a hotline for possible violations against teachers who will be serving as members of the Board of Election Tellers for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on May 14.
“We urge our colleagues and other concerned voters to report any violations to our ACT Davao Hotline 0907-925-5290,” said ACT-Davao Region’s Secretary-General Pilar Barredo, a teacher at Calinan National High School said.
The hotline complements the provisions of the Election Service Reform Act of 2016 which was principally authored by ACT’s Partylist Representatives in Congress.
The law provides that election service is non-compulsory for public school teachers and that individuals rendering election service shall be granted compensation and other benefits as they face election-related risks.
In a dialogue last March 18, ACT teachers complained that teachers are being forced to serve in the elections.
“We are alarmed by reports that our colleagues were not made to sign a Consent Form by the Department of Education to signify their permission to serve in the election,” said Wilfredo Lacatan, External Vice-President of ACT-Davao Region.
Lacatan noted that service in the electoral board is voluntary under ESRA.
“We encourage our fellow Deped teachers to just say no if you are not inclined to serve. Simply ask for a replacement,” he said.
Under ESRA, electoral board members will receive the following honoraria: P6,000 for Chairman, P5,000 for poll clerk and third member, P4,000 for DESO, and P2,000 for support staff.
On top of this is a P1,000 travel allowance, 5 days of minimum service credit, P200,000 medical assistance, free legal assistance plus a separate P50,000 Legal Indemnification Package, and P500,000 death benefit.
ACT also urged the COMELEC to ensure the following commitments:
50% of travel allowance shall be distributed when the BET picks up the election paraphernalia before the conduct of the election, and the other 50% shall be given with the honorarium;
Election service honorarium shall be received not later than 15 days after the elections and as per COMELEC commitment, will be given immediately after the turn-over of election results by the BETs;
COMELEC shall ensure the availability of legal assistance per locality during the whole conduct of elections.
ACT also called on the COMELEC to the possible disenfranchisement of BETs who will be assigned to barangays other than their own.
“For many years, public school teachers who serve in elections faced many problems from minor ones such as squabbles of candidates from voting to counting to life-threatening ones and even death from election-related violence,” lamented Lacatan.
Comelec Regional Lawyer Krisna Samantha Caballero said that the COMELEC has issued several resolutions to ensure the implementation of ESRA especially with regards to compensation and the assistance given to teachers facing election-related risks.
“Given that it is no longer mandatory for public school teachers, we are not forcing them to serve. Election officers are allowed to designate personnel to substitute teachers who will not serve on May 14,” she said. (davaotoday.com)