MANILA – Teachers who will serve in the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) will receive their honoraria on time, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Monday.
The Comelec made the assurance following the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) to ensure the protection of teachers.
"Ang commitment natin baka hindi abutin ng 10 days din. Ibibigay natin on time 'yung lahat ng honoraria nila (Our commitment is, within 10 days, we will give their honoraria on time)," Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said in a press conference.
The decision was made in response to Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte’s request “to ensure that our teachers serving in the elections will get their timely allowances.”
Under the law, Garcia said teachers must receive their honoraria within 15 days after the conduct of polls.
Based on the updated honoraria, the poll body raised the compensation from PHP6,000 and PHP5,000 to PHP10,000 and PHP9,000 for electoral chairpersons and board members, respectively.
"Doon sa mga areas na may early voting hours, binigyan namin ng dagdag na PHP2,000 across the board 'yung lahat na maglilingkod na mga guro (For areas with early voting hours, we gave the teachers additional PHP2,000 across the board),” Garcia said.
Aside from higher honoraria, the Comelec chief also assured the availability of PHP500,000 in death benefits and PHP200,000 cash assistance in case of injuries per teacher.
"Mayroon kaming in-allocate na PHP35 million para sa trust fund natin para anytime pwedeng magamit para sa kapakanan ng ating mga guro (We have allocated PHP34 million in trust fund that we can utilize anytime for the welfare of our teachers)," Garcia added.
Duterte, meanwhile, raised an election-related expenditure shouldered by schools.
“(Kasama sa wish list ang) pagiging libre ng paggamit ng kuryente at tubig sa aming mga paaralan at iyong mga repair ng mga nasirang gamit kapag tapos na 'yung election dahil ito po ay tsina-charge sa MOOE [Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses] (Included in our wish list is the free use of electricity and water in our schools, as well as the repairs of facilities that were destroyed because these are charged to the MOOE)," she said.
Garcia said he will raise the concern with the Department of Budget and Management.
“All along, akala ko libre 'yung pagbabayad natin sa kuryente at tubig (all along I thought that use of electricity and water is free of charge),” Garcia said. "To a certain extent, that is really so unfair. And we have to do something. We in the Comelec will do something about it."
Garcia said such concerns will be included in the amendment of the revision of Omnibus Election Code to ensure appropriation for such items in the next polls.
Free legal assistance
The poll body also included the provision of legal assistance to teachers facing election offenses or administrative charges, with the help of PAO.
"The teachers are so vulnerable that's why legal assistance is the best defense against these kinds of attacks against them," Garcia said.
Under the MOA, teachers who will serve as election board members will have access to PAO's free legal assistance, including counsel with no appearance fees.
The Comelec, meanwhile, assured the training of police officers as backup electoral board members in case an area is placed under stringent safety guidelines.
The poll body is training some 400 cops, especially in Mindanao, to ensure the safety of teachers. (PNA)