Teachers renewing appeal vs mandatory poll duties

Media Coverage,Press May 1, 2015 4:16 PM

With the 2016 general elections just a year away, public school teachers are again calling on the government to make Election Day duties optional and not mandatory.

In a media forum on the Election Service Reform Bill and the preparations for the 2016 Elections scheduled today, teachers’ groups, including Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC), the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) will reiterate their appeal to make election duty optional for public school teachers.

 The forum, organized by the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), will be attended by House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform Chairman Rep. Fredenil Castro, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, former Department of Education (DepEd) assistant secretary and Center for Political Economy, Foundation for Economic Freedom representative Jonathan Malaya, Atty. Takahiro Kenjie Aman of LENTE; TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas and Atty. Randy Pablo of PPSTA.


Rep. Castro and the panel will be discussing the pending bill in Congress that seeks to make election service non-compulsory for public school teachers and opening up election service to other sectors, as well as other pending election bills.

 The election watchdog LENTE will also be presenting its working paper on issues the organization think would affect the credibility of the 2016 elections.

 Earlier, TDC said that “compulsory poll duties for public school teachers” is a form of “legalized exploitation.”

Basas explained that public school teachers, under the law are deputized as poll workers and tasked to supervise the whole process – from opening up to the closing of polling precincts.


“In between, teachers must ensure that the choice of every voter has been cast and counted… but in order for us teachers to do this, we expose ourselves to all sorts of dangers-health risks, harassment, legal charges and physical attack,” Basas added.

 Basas noted that in past elections, the group witnessed to the violence and danger faced by teacher.

 Every election, he noted that “there were reports of those teachers who were hurt, intimidated, met accidents and worst, killed in line of duty.”

 Teachers, Basas added, always “suffer mental and physical fatigue for working more than 24 hours – without a single minute of sleep.”

He noted instances that the elections may have been finished the following day, “but not the teachers’ suffering” particularly in dealing with the ire of losing candidates, who have traditional targeted poll workers, exposing the hapless teachers to violence and election-related cases.”


 Basas said that teachers’ groups have been pushing for the optional election duties but it is mandated by law.

Thus, they have been asking the government to ensure the protection of teachers from harassment, intimidation and physical attack during elections; provide legal assistance for teachers who will be facing election-charges; and raise their honorarium.

However, they noted that these are not provided to them.

 “We cannot refuse the assignment to sit as election workers, even if this task may kill us or expose us to harm, even death,” Basas said. Thus, they are asking to scrap the mandated poll duty of public school teachers which they believe is a “legal excuse for the government to perpetuate exploitation.”

by Merlina Malipot

Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/teachers-renewing-appeal-vs-mandatory-poll-duties/#CQriMU4Sp43w6JSt.99

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