Comelec asked to give teachers OT pay for poll duty
MANILA, Philippines — A teachers’ group is pressing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to give overtime pay to teachers who served for more than 24 hours as poll workers during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
In a letter addressed to Comelec Chair George Garcia, the chair of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), Benjo Basas, noted that the honorarium for teachers serving as members of the electoral board (EB) was considered per diem, or a daily allowance, and computed based on three days — three eight-hour shifts — or 24 hours of nonstop work.
“Still, many of our Department of Education (DepEd) employees work beyond 24 hours and are thus entitled to overtime pay,” Basas said in the letter dated Oct. 31.
“The teachers have been awake for more than 30 hours and have been working continuously. They endured hardship and danger, especially those in remote rural areas where transportation is difficult,” he said.
According to Education Undersecretary Michael Poa, a total of 494,662 DepEd teachers had volunteered to serve in the Oct. 30 village and youth polls.
But delays in election tasks assigned to teachers often resulted in a “straight 30 hours of sleepless and continuous work for some teachers,” Basas said.
According to him, the poll body previously granted a similar request by teachers, as in the 2022 national and local elections when the Comelec had allocated overtime pay for them.
“This is also consistent with the policy of additional compensation for [EBs] assigned to precincts conducting a pilot test of early voting for the vulnerable sectors,” Basas said.
He said the Comelec should streamline the process of the retrieval of election paraphernalia to ease the burden on teachers.
‘Beyond their duty’
In a message to the Inquirer, he said that in some Metro Manila cities like Caloocan and Valenzuela, an organized system had been implemented such that election paraphernalia were delivered to the school and picked up by Comelec staff.
“[So] it can also be done in other localities. Staying awake to line up is not part of the job of the teachers as the electoral board, it is beyond their duty and in fact, there is no need to do it if only the Comelec system is fixed, “ Basas said.
In his letter, Basas reiterated his group’s call to scrap the 20-percent tax on the honorarium for poll duty.
“Our teachers consider the task a patriotic duty, but a good compensation package will help persuade more qualified teachers to sit as members of the electoral board,” he said.
While the honorarium was increased to P10,000 for the EB chair and P9,000 for members, he noted that the hike was effectively offset by the tax, leaving them with only P8,000 and P7,200, respectively.
In July 2022, President Marcos vetoed a bill that would have granted tax exemptions to the pay and benefits given to election workers.
“[We] will continue to lobby for this in Congress and hope that the President will not veto it this time,” Basas said.
At the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon public briefing on Wednesday, Comelec spokesperson and director John Rex Laudiangco said all barangays in the country had proclaimed the winning candidates, with the exception of Barangay Naguma, a remote barangay in Calbayog City, Samar.
The election was postponed in the village repeatedly as a result of the presence of an “unknown” private armed group, resulting in confrontations with authorities.
Polling, however, resumed on Wednesday, with the winners’ proclamation expected within the day, Laudiangco said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered outgoing barangay and SK officials who lost their reelection bid to properly turn over government property and documents within three weeks.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the three-week period would ensure a “natural and proper” transition for the new set of officers in the barangay and SK.
Under DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2023-166, “there shall be a transition period not to exceed three weeks to ensure proper and smooth transition of governments, accountabilities and actual turnover of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan.”
On Tuesday, the Church-led election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said its 200,000 volunteers observed generally “orderly and peaceful” conduct of the elections nationwide, “barring violence in the Bangsamoro area.”
The PPCRV noted the strong presence of police officers, soldiers, and firefighters in polling centers and “credit their efforts in maintaining peace and order.”
“While generally orderly, incidences of fake voters were recorded, with some voters arriving to find that others had already voted in their place,” it said, adding: “The counting of votes was likewise generally peaceful, with some incidents reported wherein all watchers were required to vacate the room.”
The group added, however, that vote-buying “continues to be rampant, progressing from retail vote acquisition to group acquisition even at the family and barangay level.”