Bill to free teachers from polls
MANILA, Philippines–A bill that will make election service voluntary instead of compulsory for public school teachers is up for debate in the House of Representatives.
The suffrage and electoral reforms committee has rolled out a consolidated version of five similar bills which would allow public school teachers to refuse election duty and willing government employees to take up the slack.
The lower chamber is expected to schedule deliberations on House Bill No. 5412 or the Election Service Reform Act soon, according to committee chair Quezon City Rep. Fredenil Castro.
Castro said the bill would “free school teachers from compulsory election duty as currently practiced and open up the election service to other government employees, Commission on Election-accredited citizen arms and private citizens of known probity and competence.”
Under the bill, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may appoint any registered voter, based on an order of preference, to serve during elections should there be a lack of teachers willing, available or qualified to do so.
The order of preference is as follows: private school teachers; Department of Education nonteaching personnel; other national government officials and employees, excluding members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police; members of Comelec-accredited citizen’s arms and other accredited civil society and nongovernment organizations; and any citizen of known probity and competence not involved with a candidate or party.
The bill provides that the government employees need not be registered voters in the place where they wish to serve.
On the other hand, private school teachers, members of citizen’s arms, civil society and nongovernment groups and citizen volunteers must be registered voters of the place where they wish to serve.
In cases where the law and order situation so requires, only members of the PNP and not the AFP may be deputized as members of the Board of Election Inspectors.
Government employees rendering election service shall be entitled to honoraria, travel allowance and other benefits as may be granted by the Comelec, at rates to be determined and approved by the Department of Budget and Management.–DJ Yap