Teachers get P2,000 hike in poll honorarium

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced yesterday that members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in the May 9 polls would get an additional P2,000 in honorarium.

In a press conference for the Memorandum of Agreement between the Comelec, Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista noted the increase has been approved by the commission.

“While they are undergoing training, we have approved a small amount to give them so they do not have to spend out of their own pockets,” he said. The amount will be released to the BEI members when they attend the monthlong training set to start on March 1.

The additional cash will bring to P6,500 the total honorarium to be received by BEI members.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 10031, the chairperson and members of the BEIs shall receive a per diem of P1,000 for three days plus additional P500 each for the verification and sealing of the Book of Voters, final testing and sealing of vote counting machines, and transportation allowance for a total per diem of P4,500.

Bautista said they need around 300,000 public school teachers to administer elections in more than 95,000 clustered polling precincts nationwide.

On a recent move of the Senate and House to approve a bill that will make election duties optional for public school teachers, Bautista maintained that they see no problem with this.

Proper compensation

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said teachers who would perform election duties should be given proper compensation.

Romualdez, who leads the independent bloc in the House of Representatives, also hailed the passage by Congress of a bill that would make election duties optional for teachers.

“For the longest time, public school teachers served as the guardians of our electoral system on voting day itself and during the counting of the votes. For this, the nation should extend its sincere gratitude,” Romualdez said.

He said making poll duties optional for public school teachers and giving them proper compensation “recognizes their invaluable contributions to our system of free, fair, clean and credible elections and shows government’s compassion for their well-being.”

Romualdez paid tribute to the sacrifices made by the teachers, especially in areas considered as election hot spots where intense political rivalries sometimes lead to violence and various forms of poll irregularities such as vote-buying, ballot snatching and ballot switching.

“Our public school teachers who are in the frontline of efforts to uphold and defend our system of free elections deserve better pay and the change in the nature of their assignment from compulsory to voluntary. We should ensure their welfare as well as safety and security should they choose to perform poll duties,” he said.

Senate Bill 2178 or the proposed Election Service Reform Act (ESRA) would allow public school teachers to choose whether to accept poll duties, which for them was mandatory in past elections.

For the teachers who choose to serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), the bill also provides that they get a higher honorarium.

The House of Representatives has also passed the proposed ESRA, with the honorarium of teachers to be increased from P3,000 to P6,000 for chairman of the BEI, from P3,000 to P5,000 for members, P3,000 to P4,000 for supervisors of the Department of Education and P1,500 to P2,000 for support staff. Their travel allowance would double to P1,000.

The measure also grants an increase in death benefits from P200,000 to P500,000 and also the medical assistance in such amount as may be “sufficient to cover for medical and hospitalization expenses until recovery” of injuries sustained while in the performance of election duties.

The DepEd welcomed yesterday Congress’ approval of a bill that makes election duties voluntary for public school teachers in the country.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said the country has around 700,000 public school teachers, and only more than 233,000 serve as BEIs during elections.

Umali also believed that teachers are more willing to become BEIs with the automation of elections.

“Even with that option they will still accept to serve as BEIs,” Umali said during the first DepEd Kapihan with the media held at the agency’s head office in Pasig City.

Umali said the agency is set to sign an agreement with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the safety of teachers especially those assigned in areas classified as election hot spots.

The DepEd will also ink an agreement with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Public Attorney’s Office to assist BEIs who may face harassment by way of lawsuits. – Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero, Helen Flores

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