Private school teachers tapped for poll duties

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Commission on Elections will hire private school teachers and government employees to help about 400,000 public school teachers in performing their poll duties during the May elections.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos made the announcement as he dispelled concerns that the poll body may not have enough teachers to man about 300,000 voting across the country in the local and congressional elections.

“I don’t think we will have a shortage. We will tap the private schools and [the Civil Service Commission],” Abalos said, noting that the poll agency needs about 900,000 teachers for the exercise.

But Antonio Tinio, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, said the country only has about 470,000 public school teachers nationwide and not all teachers are allowed to perform election duties because the law only allows a teacher to serve as an election inspector in the school where he teaches if he is a registered voter in the area.

“We cannot fill the gap. There are only 470,000 teachers in the public schools. Not all of these teachers are allowed to serve as election inspectors. May be around 400,000 of them could help,” he said, adding that ACT members from Bulacan teach in schools in Quezon City and Manila.

Members of the alliance yesterday trooped to the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila and met with Abalos in a closed-door conference to air their sentiments.

“The teachers were complaining about the provision in the law. That [move] for me is a beautiful indication of patriotism. They really wanted to serve the country,” he told reporters, adding that the teachers asked Abalos to grant more benefits to the election inspectors.

The teachers wanted an increase in the daily honorarium of P1,000 to P2,000 and in the transportation allowance of P300 to P500. They also wanted insurance coverage amounting to P500,000 and a 10-day leave credit for every day of election service.

ACT also asked for a free legal assistance for teachers who would be charged with criminal or administrative cases in the course of their election service and the recognition of ACT teachers’ election hotline.