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Teachers troop to Comelec to protest cut in poll pay

MANILA, Philippines—Public school teachers on Tuesday trooped to the Commission on Elections main office in Manila to protest the cut in their honorarium for election day and seek legal assistance.

Benjie Valbuena, Alliance of Concerned Teachers chair, said the honorarium for teachers serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) this coming May 13 elections was only P4,000 or lower than the P4,300 they received in the 2010 elections.

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Valbuena said the honorarium should be increased to P6,000 while the Comelec should provide more legal assistance to fend off harassment by losing candidates. The teachers in 2010 received P3,800 and P500 as transportation allowance.

“It’s only days before the election but (Comelec) chairman (Sixto Brillantes Jr.) has yet to say if there will be an increase in our compensation, which was actually reduced,” Valbuena said in an interview.

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“Before, it was P4,300. But now, we will get only P4,000. It is unfair that that amount was deducted from what we received during the 2010 elections,” he added.

Valbuena said their honorarium should be increased to P6,000 because BEIs now serve more voters due to the clustering of precincts.

“If before, we served 100 to 200 voters, now we have to deal with 500 or maybe even 1,000 voters due to clustering,” he said.

“Putting indelible ink, looking for the names of 1,000 voters, and (dealing) with insistent voters and watchers—those are not automated,” he added.

Valbuena said the Comelec should also push for increasing the service credit of teachers who will serve as BEIs from three days to five days.

“As we see it, we’re really at the losing end if we get only P4,000. So, we are asking that the P4,000 be increasing to P6,000 at to increase the service credits to five days,” he said.

He said that around 250,000 teachers will be serving in the coming elections as BEIs who will be responsible for the 77,000 precinct count optical scan machines that will be used in the voting.

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“The Comelec should also make sure that the teachers will not be used for questionable elections or get harassed,” Valbuena said.

“One sad reality is that the Comelec deputizes teachers but when the (teachers are) charged, it turns out that it is the Comelec that’s the complainant. That is ridiculous,” he added.

Valbuena said the Comelec should instead make sure that teachers get legal assistance when they are hailed to court by losing candidates.

“We need to get legal assistance because losing candidates complain and it is the teachers who are usually harassed. But we don’t get legal assistance. The Comelec does not defend us,” he said.

Valbuena said they also held the picket to support the Comelec-Employee’s Union demand for a “substantial increase” in their salary.

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TAGS: 2013 elections, Benjie Valbuena, Comelec, Commission on Elections, Public School Teachers, Sixto Brillantes Jr.
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