700 teachers shun poll duty
KIDAPAWAN CITY—At least 700 public school teachers in Maguindanao are begging off from duty for the barangay (village) elections, citing security reasons.
The teachers, tapped for deployment to six of Maguindanao’s 36 towns for the elections, have asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to spare them from election duty as members of board of election tellers (BETs), saying they feared for their security.
Udtog Tago, Maguindanao provincial election supervisor, said he had written the Comelec central office about the teachers’ plea.
Tago quoted the teachers as saying “sad experiences” that they went through in previous elections are forcing them to beg off from election duty this time.
The teachers cited cases of harassment by politicians and their supporters during the May national elections and past elections.
Tago said teachers, as member of BETs, “are exposed to threats and violence during election time.” BETs, he said, are part of the board of canvassers in barangay levels that are normally targets of harassment.
Tago said the teachers who are begging off from election duty are from the towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Salipada K. Pendatun, Shariff Aguak, Saidona Mustapha, Datu Piang and Datu Abdullah Sangki, all in the second district of the province. These towns are consistently on the list of the Comelec’s areas of election concern.
Tago said he sent the teachers’ request to the Comelec central office “for proper disposal.”
Tago said as a result of the teachers’ request, the Maguindanao poll office has crafted a contingency plan to prevent a disruption of elections in the six towns.
He said one plan is to send police officers as members of BETs instead of teachers.
Tago said the Comelec en banc is expected to enforce measures to ensure the credibility of the coming elections.
He said among the measures is a planned reshuffle of Comelec personnel in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
“The Comelec included this in its game plan to do away with too much familiarization of some election officials with local bets,” he said. Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao