A TEACHERS’ group on Monday said they appreciate the P300 additional honorarium for teachers who served during the 2013 barangay elections held on October 28 and special elections on November 28 held in Bohol province and Zamboanga City.

    “This is an admission that the Comelec gave us less than what we deserved. However, we would be more thankful if they provided a truly just pay commensurate to our tasks,” Benjo Basas, national chairman of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), said.

    The announcement came from the budget department on Sunday as its response to the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) appeal for increase in teachers’ pay.

    The TDC prior to the elections protested what they call “a legalized exploitation” of teachers through the compulsory election duties that they said exposes them to “all sorts of dangers- health risks, harassment, legal charges and physical attack.

    “Yet at the end of all these sufferings,” Basas said, adding that “teachers will only get a very minimal compensation- not even enough for transportation, paracetamol, food and energy drink to keep us awake, often, the honorarium comes very late, as late as a month or more.”

    The TDC head cited the October 28 elections in which the group received reports of non-payment of the P2, 000 honorarium as late as one month after the polls.

    Meanwhile the payment for those who served as canvassers [amount varies depending on the number of clustered precinct]as well as the P500 transportation allowance have not been paid in such areas as Palo, Leyte and Olongapo City, respectively, that is two months after the elections.

    Basas also criticized the government for paying “huge amount of honoraria and bonuses to those who practically just sit in their respective offices, including the bosses of government corporations and financial institutions” and giving away people’s money to the “discretionary funds of incompetent and corrupt officials” while providing very little to the lowly rank and file employees.

    “The amount of honorarium should have been doubled, it should not be less than P4, 000, same as our total per diem during automated elections, because barangay elections use manual system which is more physically exhausting,” Basas said.

    TDC also reiterated its call for the abolition of the mandated poll duties of teachers.

    “These are the reasons why we push for the optional election duties. We cannot refuse the assignment to sit as election workers, even if this task may expose us to harm, even death. We cannot negotiate with the Comelec on the amount they want us to be paid,” Basas said.

    “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 for the government to perpetuate exploitation,” the TDC head added.


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