A TEACHER’S group has called on the Commission on Elections to recognize the reasons teachers backed out from their poll duties in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).
If the teachers withdrew because they felt a threat to their life and safety, the Comelec should recognize it because the poll duties were “not compulsory,” said the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC).
“If the teachers in these areas believe that security is inadequate, then it is a failure of the government,” TDC said in a statement.
On the day of the BSKE, around 2,500 teachers backed out from their poll duties, mostly in the region of Bangsamoro.
According to the report of conflict watchdog Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia (CCAA), the teachers did not show up due to the “lack of trust” in law enforcers’ abilities to protect them.
Meanwhile, Comelec Chairman George Garcia said on Thursday the poll body “respects their decision” as it is within their right to withdraw and it is “not mandatory to teachers.”
“But what about those very very few who on the day of the elections, when the precincts already opened, suddenly withdrew without any notice whatsoever,” Garcia told reporters in a viber message.
Their refusal to turn over the election paraphernalia to their replacements for no known reason also “complicates” the issue, he added.
As a result, Garcia said they will conduct an investigation regarding the cases of teachers backing out from poll duties as it “may endanger future electoral exercises.”
No overtime pay
Following an appeal filed by TDC to grant teachers overtime pay for working in the BSKE, Comelec cannot give overtime pay for teachers who served as poll watchers, said Garcia on Thursday,
The poll body “would like to give,” but is restrained by a joint circular by the Commission on Audit (CoA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) indicating that “only employees of an agency are entitled to claim overtime.”
“The teachers who served as electoral board members are not employees of Comelec. Moreover, the budget provided us did not provide for such an item,” said Garcia.
TDC Chair Benjo Basas said they will bring the appeal to Congress.
“Our teachers consider the task a patriotic duty, but a good compensation package will help persuade more qualified teachers to sit as members of the Electoral Board (EB), the top priority under the Election Service Reform Act,” said Basas.