To serve or not to serve? Make us decide – Public School Teachers

For Release,NLE2016,Press April 30, 2015 2:00 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Four days before Congress resumes its session, the three biggest teacher organizations in the country, Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Philippines Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA), called on Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales and other lawmakers to push for the immediate approval of House Bill No. 5412 which is now on 2nd Reading.

The heart of House Bill No. 5412 also known as the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA) makes election service non-compulsary for public school teachers, giving them the choice whether or not to serve as poll workers in elections.  Aside from this, the bill also provides for institutionalized benefits, legal assistance, and service incentive leaves for those serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).

“This is a very important piece of legislation for our 600,000+ public school teachers natiowide.  I call on all my colleagues at the House of Representatives to join me in pushing for ESRA,” said Rep. Fredenil “Fred” H. Castro, Chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.

Castro said that his committee has studied the matter carefuly and believes it’s time to give teachers the freedom of choice in serving during elections. “Our teachers are generally willing to serve but we should allow them to make that decision and not use the powers of the State to impose on them,” he said.

He also allayed fears that there would be no poll workers if election service was made non-compulsary for public school teachers. “The bill provides for replacements in such cases. We will mobilize private school teachers, national government employees, and members of COMELEC-accredited citizens arms. There are enough qualified persons to serve as poll workers,” said Castro.

He was joined by the Teachers Dignity Coalition. “We just want to decide on our own and not be mandated by law to serve.  Teachers would still serve.  If there are no peace and order problems, you can count on us,” assured Mr. Benjo Basas, TDC National Chairperson.

Basas also said that they are pushing for the bill in order to institutionalize government assistance to those serving as poll workers, such as medical and death assistance for election-related risks, legal assistance and legal indemnification to protect teachers from harassment law suits. Many teachers has been subjected to law suits from losing candidates in the past.

When asked on the impact of the House Bill No. 5412 on their members, Atty. Randy F. Pablo, PPSTA legal counsel, answered that the bill would greatly help them as teachers would no longer worry about benefits and delays in the release of their honorarium.  The bill provides for penalties against officials who cause a delay in the release of honoraria beyond 15 days from election day.

As to the bill’s future, Atty. Takahiro Kenjie Aman of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said that they hope that the bill would be approved on 2nd Reading when Congress holds session May 4 to June 11.

ESRA was filed by Reps. Castro, Antonio L. Tinio, Regina Ongsiako Reyes, Erlinda M. Santiago, Eric L. Olivarez, Lawrence H. Fortun, Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo, Harlin C. Abayon, Nicasio M. Aliping, and Emmeline Y. Aglipay.###

 

For questions/queries:

Atty. Rona Ann V. Caritos

Acting Executive Director

LENTE

0917.576.0810 

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