MANILA, Philippines — In line with the celebration of World Teachers’ Day this Tuesday, public school teachers are asking for a special gift from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Education (DepEd) — a higher pay and lighter load on the coming barangay election.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), a 30,000-strong group, made an appeal to Comelec to consider a better compensation package and lighter workload for teachers on poll duty on the Oct. 25 Barangay and SK Elections (B & SK Elections).
According to TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas, teachers would want the Comelec to give them higher per diem and lesser number of voters per precinct.
“The Comelec will give a total of P1,500 for every teacher who will sit in the BET. That’s really unfair,” Basas said, citing Comelec Resolution 9030 or the General instructions for BET and Barangay Board of Canvassers for the October village elections.
Basas, a Caloocan City teacher, asid that in B & SK Election in Oct. 2007, Comelec attempted to pay only P1,000 per diem while its General Instruction says that it must not exceed P2,000.
“However, teachers refused to accept the P1,000 payment which prompted no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to order DBM to release funds for another P1,000,” he said.
Basas said that the 2007 experience is proof that teachers manning the elections deserve more than P1,000 and Comelec must act swiftly on it.
He added that teachers must be paid not less than P3,000 per diem, P500 for sealing of book of voters and P500 transportation allowance.
“As for the non-monetary compensation, that it is but fair to set aside certain amount for teachers’ insurance and five-day leave credits,” Basas said.
Another concern for teachers is the statement from Comelec that the maximum voters for each precinct will be cut to 400 from 1,000. This is to supposedly avoid the long queues but Basas said that this “somewhat sabotaged the May 2010 first automated elections in the country.”
He added that since the B & SK elections will be done manually, there is no basis for comparison since the 1,000 maximum voters last May voted in automated manner. “Prior to that, the maximum voters do not exceed 200 in any precinct of clustered precinct,” said Basas who also served as head or members of the BEI in the last five elections.
Apart from the compensation and workload issue, TDC will also ask the Comelec and the authorities to ensure the safety and security of teachers compelled to perform poll duties.
“We call on the authorities for a more law enforcement visibility to secure the polling places and lessen the threats of violence,” Basas said adding that the “B & SK elections are the most prone to untoward incidents being entirely based in the grassroots.”
The TDC, since its formation has been constantly lobbying in both Houses to put an end to the compulsory poll duties of public school teachers.
“This is the best gift the Comelec could give the teachers on this international celebration of Teachers’ Day,” Basas said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) expressed support to the teachers who will serve as BET by coordinating with various agencies to ensure the smooth conduct of the coming polls.
According to DepEd Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs and official spokesperson Alberto Muyot, to help ensure the protection of teachers who will the polls, DepEd will work closely with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines for the safety of teachers.