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PRESS RELEASE: Solon hails passage of bill making election service non-compulsory for teachers

27 January 2016 No Comment
27 January 2015
Solon hails passage of bill making election service non-compulsory for teachers
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio hailed the passage of the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA) by Congress, with yesterday’s adoption by the House of amendments made by the Senate.
The ESRA makes election service voluntary for public school teachers and other citizens, increases the honoraria for poll workers, and mandates benefits such as medical and legal assistance, among others. Tinio is the principal author of ESRA.
“This is a historic victory for public school teachers, who have long clamored to make election service voluntary instead of compulsory. While teachers have discharged the burden of obligatory election service well, their ranks have also paid the price. We dedicate the passage of this law to the memory of Filomena Tatlonghari, Nellie Banaag, and other teachers who gave their lives while serving in elections,” said Tinio.
Tatlonghari was killed in a ballot box-snatching incident in Mabini, Batangas in 1995, while Banaag died when her school was burned down by armed men during the 2007 elections.
Tinio likewise acknowledged the support of the House leadership, particularly Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, and House Suffrage and Electoral Reforms Committee chair Rep. Fredenil Castro for the passage of the bill. “Their support was crucial in securing House approval, given the limited session days remaining and the difficulty of achieving a quorum,” noted Tinio.
Tinio further lauded the efforts of various teachers’ groups, as well as the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) and the Center for Political Economy, Foundation for Economic Freedom in campaigning for the passage of ESRA. “Their tireless lobbying was the decisive factor in convincing the House and Senate to enact ESRA.”
Under the Congress-approved bill, election service shall be performed by public school on a voluntary basis. In case of a lack of public school teachers, the COMELEC may appoint the following, in the order of preference: private school teachers; national government employees, excluding military personnel; members of COMELEC-accredited citizens’ arms; and any qualified registered voter with no partisan political affiliations. PNP personnel shall be appointed as a last resort if no other qualified voters are willing to serve.
ESRA also mandates COMELEC, within 30 days of the law’s effectivity, to determine if there is still material time to implement non-compulsory election service in the 2016 national and local elections. Otherwise, it will take effect in the next polls.
The measure raises the honoraria for BEI chairman from P3,000 to P6,000; for BEI members from P3,000 to P5,000; for Department of Education supervisors from P3,000 to P4,000 and for support staff from P1,500 to P2,000. They will also be given a travel allowance of P1,000, double the amount granted in 2013.
Tinio assured that the passage of ESRA will not result in a shortage of election workers. “Considering the increase in honoraria and the solid package of benefits and legal assistance, teachers opting out of election service will be the exception, rather than the rule. Teachers will continue to serve in the overwhelming majority of polling precincts nationwide, and they will do an even better job.”
“We urge Pres. Aquino to sign this historic measure as soon as possible,” concluded Tinio.” ###

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