Teachers ask for relief from poll precinct duties

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TEACHER organizations Ating Guro party-list and Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) on Tuesday vowed to continue their fight for voluntary election duties through the amendments of the existing election laws in the country.

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The groups launched a signature campaign asking the legislators and President Benigno Aquino 3rd to act favorably on the BEI [board of election inspectors]Reform Bill (HB 3514) authored by Rep. Leny Robredo of Camarines Sur province.

“This proposal should be treated as an urgent bill; this has been a long-standing demand of public school teachers nationwide. We are often subjected to harassment, humiliation, and hardship, and even violence during the election period,” Arsenio Jallorina, chairman of Ating Guro party-list, said in a statement.

Jallorina, a former principal of a public school in Manila, said the bill, if enacted into law would ensure “the protection of the rights and privileges of those appointed to the board of election inspectors and will improve the integrity of elections.”

The bill also seeks to institutionalize a package of benefits and privileges for BEI members that includes an honorarium of at least P6, 000, travel allowance of at least P1,000, compulsory insurance coverage, hospitalization up to recovery and a minimum of P200,000 death benefit, legal assistance and indemnification, voting privilege in the precinct where he/she is assigned on election day; and options for public school teachers to serve as BEI members.

TDC Chairman Benjo Basas said the bill would address all election-related concerns: “We are happy that a number of lawmakers are in support of this measure. However, we would also seek the nod of Malacañang.”

Basas, who served as a member of BEI for seven times, said their group considers election duty as a legalized form of exploitation.
“We cannot refuse the assignment to sit as election workers, even if this task may expose us to harm. We cannot negotiate with the Commission on Elections on the amount they want us to be paid and we can never demand for a lawyer to defend us when we are in trouble. The mandated poll duty of public school teachers is a legal excuse to perpetuate exploitation,” he added.

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