DAVAO CITY, Philippines — With the recently concluded Barangay and Sanggunaing Kabataan elections as the first implementation of the Election Service Reform Act of 2016,the Alliance of Concerned Teachers called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the timely release of teachers’ benefits and the need for legal assistance.
ESRA provides that election duties is non-compulsory to public teachers and that individuals serving in the elections shall be given compensation and benefits as they face election related risks.
Through its hotline, ACT monitored major complaints of non-release of the 50% travel allowance during the distribution of election paraphernalia in Region 11 on May 13 and non-deployment of lawyers who will provide legal assistance in the course of the electoral process.
Nationwide monitoring of Alliance of Concerned Teachers revealed that in majority of the regions across the country, the teachers have yet to receive the cash cards through which the election service honorarium and travel allowance will be transmitted. For a few areas who have received the cash cards, teachers said that the accounts are empty when they checked them through automated machines.
“We have also received complaints that no budget was allotted for teacher’s breakfast in Davao City National High School,no padlock was given for the ballot box in the precincts of Barangay Duterte and there were candidates who were distributing handbills in Buhangin during the election day,” Willy Lacatan, Vice President of ACT-Davao Region said.
Earlier, Board of Election Tellers in Asuncion town were advised by the COMELEC to follow the briefing to write the candidates names on the tally board during the Election Day. However, teachers complained that it would take them two hours to prepare the tally board and the tally sheet.
Meanwhile,the COMELEC in a statement on April 24 assured poll workers who will render service in the 2018 Barangay and SK elections that they will be paid the full sum of their compensation upon the completion of their duties on May 14.
“Though we consider ESRA as victory on the part of the teachers, we are dismayed that for the first time, our electoral honorarium is taxed by the BIR and our tax refund will only be given if it is proven that our annual income is below P250,000,” Lacatan added.
DepEd deployed about 3,000 public school teachers serving as electoral board members.
Davao Today tried to contact the DepED and COMELEC but failed to get comments. (davaotoday.com)