POLL WORKERS. Education Secretary Leonor Briones (uppermost left) joins other executives in the Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday (April 6, 2022). They discussed the higher honoraria and allowances of teachers who will serve as poll workers in the May 9 elections. (Screengrab from Laging Handa)

MANILA – Higher honoraria and additional allowances shall be given to teachers who will serve as poll workers in the May 9 national and local polls, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Wednesday.

In the Laging Handa public briefing, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said they have closely coordinated with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to ensure increased allowances for the teachers.

“More than a year na kaming nag-negotiate para rito dahil talagang deserving naman ang ating teachers ng suporta, hindi naman in exchange, dahil sila ay nagsisilbi sa bayan (We have been negotiating for more than a year because the teachers truly deserved the support, not in exchange, but because they are real public servants),” she said.

Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the board chairman will now receive PHP7,000 or PHP1,000 higher compared to the 2019 mid-term elections, while board members will get PHP6,000, supervising official – PHP5,000, and support staff with PHP3,000.

Beside the increased honoraria, teachers will be also given various allowances including PHP2,000 transportation allowance; PHP1,500 communication stipend; PHP500 anti-Covid-19 allowance; and medical and accident insurances.

To date, some 320,000 teachers have already been included in the election board members for the upcoming elections.

DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua said lawmakers were unable to amend the provisions amid their call to make the increased allowances tax-free, even with the support of Comelec.

“Kahit nga ang BIR ay uma-agree rin sa ating layunin, subalit may batas na kinakailangang i-amend bago ang exemption at ‘yan pong amendment sa batas ay hindi po nagawa ng kongreso. Kaya hanggang ngayon po ang ating honoraria at saka ang allowances, ay hindi sila tax-exempted (Even the Bureau of Internal Revenue agrees to our goal, but the law needs to be amended before an exemption, the Congress was unable to secure an amendment. Until now, our honoraria and allowances are not tax-exempted),” he said.

Meanwhile, the DepEd Election Task Force has been conducting briefings and consultations with regional offices, together with the Comelec, to train and orient teachers for the new normal election process.

“Inaadvisan namin sila very, very strongly na hindi makisali sa partisan political activities at ilang issuances na ‘yung ginawa natin dito, lalo na ‘yung pag-involve ng mga bata sa mga public events dahil may risk po naman ito (We are advising them very, very strongly not to join partisan political activities and other issuances we have released regarding the matter, especially for the involvement of kids to public events, because it has risks),” Briones said. (PNA)