Bill making poll duties for public school teachers voluntary nears Aquino’s signing
EVEN private citizens may soon take the stead of public school teachers as election inspectors in the country’s polls.
This after the House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the bill rendering election service for public school teachers voluntary, and authorizing the services of other qualified citizens for the elections.
The bill is entitled “Election Service Reform Act.”
After both Houses of Congress agreed on the version, the bill would be ratified and sent to Malacañang for the President’s approval.
According to the bill, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may assign the following should there be a lack of public school teachers:
-Private school teachers,
-National government employees,
-Department of Education non-teaching personnel,
-Other national government officials and employees holding regular or permanent positions (excluding uniformed personnel from the Department of National Defense); and
-Members of the Comelec-accredited citizens arm groups
The Comelec may also assign any registered voters not affiliated with any political party or candidate to serve in the elections.
In the situation where security risk is high, the Comelec may assign police personnel to render election service but only as a last resort.
The bill also increases the honoraria of the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors to P6,000 from P3,000; members of the board to P5,000 from P3,000; Department of Education supervisor/official to P4,000 from P3,000; and support staff to P2,000 from P1,500.
The bill also grants an additional travel allowance of P1,000, and death benefits in case of election-related risks of P500,000.
The honoraria and allowances should also be paid within 15 days from the date of the elections.
The Comelec should also establish a trust fund for medical assistance, death benefits, legal assistance and indemnification, according to the bill.
The Comelec is given 30 days after the effectivity of the bill to determine if this can still be implemented in time for this year’s presidential elections.
In a statement, the principal author Act Teacher’s Rep. Antonio Tinio said the near passage of the bill is a victory for public school teachers, whose lives are put in danger because they are compelled to serve as election inspectors.
“This is a historic victory for public school teachers, who have long clamored to make election service voluntary instead of compulsory. While teachers have discharged the burden of obligatory election service well, their ranks have also paid the price. We dedicate the passage of this law to the memory of Filomena Tatlonghari, Nellie Banaag, and other teachers who gave their lives while serving in elections,” Tinio said in a statement.
Tinio said the bill would not result in a decline in number of election workers because the proposed legislation grants an increase in honoraria.
“We urge President Aquino to sign this historic measure as soon as possible,” Tinio said.