THE Department of Education (DepEd) strongly opposed the hybrid or manual system of voting in the 2016 elections, saying it will breed violence and intimidation and put the lives of teachers at risk.
He pointed out that there is no difference between a hybrid or manual system since both will utilize manual counting.
The teachers, he added, have proven their dedication to serve even at the risk of losing their lives, but their interest and safety should also be looked into.
“It would be very hard for our teachers. I can’t imagine our teachers going back to a situation wherein the counting of votes lasted for days, which oftentimes breeds pressure, violence,” Luistro pointed out.
Under an automated system, he added, the incidence of violence is almost nil.
“Second, we hope that the Comelec would revisit (its policy mandating all public school teachers to serve during elections) if it is possible that the teachers would serve on a voluntary basis. That at least they would be afforded their freedom of choice,” he added.
But Bautista said the Comelec is not likely to use the hybrid or manual system next year because of its prohibitive cost, logistic requirements and legal concerns.
He added that the commission will look into Luistro’s request to reconsider the mandatory deployment of teachers during elections.
“One of the pillars of our elections are the teachers. It is only fitting that we should hear them on what they think is best for them. I think we have no problem with that,” Bautista said.
The poll chief pointed out that there are 630,000 public school teachers nationwide and all they need is half of it for next year’s polls.
“We are talking of about 100,000 precincts. If you multiply it by three, we need 300,000 teachers and we have not over 630,000 teachers. If one of every two teachers is willing to serve, then we have no problem,” he explained.
Senior Commissioner Robert Christian Lim agreed that there were enough teachers but stressed that in a worse case scenario, the Comelec is allowed by law to get the services of private school teachers who will serve as BEIs.
The Comelec will hold the second round of public bidding for the refurbishment of the more than 81,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in August.
The poll body called for a second bidding after the Bids and Awards Committee declared a failure of bidding in June because no offer was made.
The commission has awarded the contract for the purchase of 23,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines to be used in the May 2016 elections to Smartmatic.