Teacher’s group lauds passing of law making poll duties non compulsory

Apr. 14, 2016

VIGAN CITY — A national organization of teachers has welcomed a new law making it non-compulsory for teachers to serve election duties ​while increasing benefits and protection for those who volunteer.

“This is a historic victory for public school teachers,”​ said Rep. ​Antonio Tinio,​ of the ​Alliance of Concerned Teacher​s Partylist.​

Tinio ​was referring to the passage of Republic Act 10756​,​ or the Election Service Reform A​ct, ​which ​he authored.

The law urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately implement its provisions on non-compulsory election service for teachers, higher compensation package, improved benefits, and medical and legal assistance for election volunteers.

​”​We now urge C​omelec​, DepEd, and other concerned agencies such as the Public Attorney’s Office to implement the law to its fullest extent in time for the 2016 elections, especially the higher compensation and various benefits for our B​oard of ​Election ​I​nspectors ​ (BEIs​)​, Department of Education (DepEd) supervisors, and support staff,” Tinio​ said​.

​The law “makes election service voluntary for public school teachers and other citizens and it also assures increased honoraria and allowances for poll workers, and mandates benefits such as medical and legal assistance, among others​”​.

​The honoraria for​the chairperson of the ​BEI and members are now P6,000 and P5,000, respectively​,​ from P3,000 in 2013; P4,000 for DepEd supervisors (from P3,000); and P2,000 for support staff (from P1,500).

In addition, poll workers will also be given a travel allowance of P1,000 (from P500).  Teachers shall also be entitled to service credits of five days (from three days) while other poll workers shall be granted leave credits of five days.

​For BEIs who died in the performance of election duties shall be granted P500,000 (from P200,000) while those who seek medical attention shall be entitled to such assistance as may be determined by C​omelec
as sufficient for medical and hospitalization.

ACT said that Comelec is mandated to give to poll workers their honoraria and allowances not later than 15 days from May 9.  Persons responsible for any delayed payment shall be liable for an election offense.

“The law also gives poll workers the right to engage government and private lawyers should they be sued in connection to their poll duties, with costs reimbursable from Comelec. To guarantee the payment of all these benefits, Comelec is tasked to establish a trust fund,” the teacher’s group said.

Tinio said ​the passage of the law ​”​honors the heroism of public school teachers who gave their lives to protect the people’s vote.​”

​”RA 10756 is dedicated to Filomena Tatlonghari, Nellie Banaag, and other teachers who gave their lives while protecting our votes,” said Tinio, referring to teachers who were killed while serving as election workers in previous elections.

“We successfully pushed for this law also in the name of countless teachers who face tremendous risks in the line of duty every election season,” he added.

The ESRA was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on April 8.  ACT’s Tinio filed the first bill back in 2011. (davaotoday.com)

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