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Tutors insured, but one still awaits benefits

/ 06:57 AM May 13, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Public school teachers who will once more be in the frontlines of the elections will have insurance coverage in case of election-related death or injuries.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allocated P30 million to cover election-related deaths or injuries among Department of Education (DepEd) employees in the performance of election duties.

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In case of death, the teacher’s heirs shall receive P200,000.

In the May 2010 presidential elections, four teachers were killed while 13 were injured in the line of duty, according to the DepEd.

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Three others were killed while another was injured in the October 2010 barangay elections.

The tally of casualties does not include a teacher at Kasarinlan Elementary School in Caloocan City who injured her wrist while serving as chair of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) at one of the precincts in the city in the May 10, 2010, polls.

Cita Estoesta, now 58, continues to suffer from the fracture she sustained in her right wrist when she carried a heavy package containing 1,000 ballots to be used in the first automated elections.

“Those were thick ballots and they fell to the floor so I lifted them back on the table. That’s how my joint cracked,” she said.

Despite the pain Estoesta stayed at her post throughout the day to assist voters. “Tiniis ko na lang (I just bore the pain),” she said.

With the pain getting worse, she was only able to go for a checkup the following day where tests showed she had a fracture in her wrist.

When she later applied for insurance benefits, her request was denied. She said her former supervisor told her her injury was of her own making.

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“But who will carry the ballots? Do I leave them lying there?” she said.

Estoesta, who is right-handed, said the fractured bone never healed properly so that her right wrist is protruding.

She has refused to undergo the surgery recommended by her doctor, fearing this may do more damage.

But her injury has gotten in the way of her job which requires a lot of writing.

“Until now it becomes painful whenever it’s cold,” said Estoesta, who will again serve as BEI chair today.

Education Assistant Secretary Toni Umali said they will review Estoesta’s case if she appeals her request for insurance coverage with his office.

“If there’s ambiguity over whether it was election-related, it should be decided in favor of the teacher,” he said.—Dona Z. Pazzibugan

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TAGS: election-related deaths, Elections, Philippines, Teachers
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