Teachers ready for barangay polls

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Department of Education is ready for the synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 29, saying that half a million public schoolteachers throughout the country are up to the task of ensuring the smooth conduct of the polls.

Undersecretary Franklin Sunga said the teachers have already been given training from February to April this year prior to the May elections.

Schoolteachers shall serve in the Board of Election Tellers and the Barangay Board of Canvassers, doing the frontline work in the registration up to the canvassing and consolidation of votes. Also, senior officials of the DepEd shall act as deputies of the Commission on Elections.

“We believe that our teachers have done their homework, so to speak, and that they are well prepared to perform this task professionally,” Sunga explained.

In terms of preparedness, the DepEd had released an election primer for teachers which gives them instructions and lists their responsibilities based on the general instructions of the Comelec.

The DepEd also has reactivated the Election Task Force that will ensure close coordination and consultation between the commission and the department.

This will provide immediate technical, legal and other assistance to teachers on issues, concerns and problems that may arise before, during and after the elections.

The national secretariat of the Election Task Force will be chaired by Undersecretary for Regional Operations Ramon Bacani and cochaired by Sunga.

Regional offices will also have the same structure where the Regional Director will serve as the chairman.

“While we do not expect major problems, we have to be prepared just the same that is why we created a task force,” Sunga said.

In a related development, Sunga said that DepEd has been lobbying with the Comelec to grant the same benefits the teachers received when they served in the May 2007 elections. This includes an honorarium of P3,000 plus medical and transportation allowance.

Meanwhile, DepEd, together with the commission, signed a Memorandum of Agreement yesterday at the DepEd’s Bulwagan ng Karunungan as part of its efforts to collaborate with other government agencies for the smooth conduct of the elections.