(Originally posted on November 16, 2009)
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers today called on the Commission on Elections to address a number of issues faced by teachers serving in the 2010 national elections.
ACT national chairperson Antonio Tinio noted that around 400,000 teachers are going to be needed by COMELEC to serve in 80,000 precincts in next year’s polls.
“Since 1998, our demand has been to make election service optional for teachers,” said Tinio. “There is legislation currently pending in Congress to make the necessary amendments to the Omnibus Election Code, but with so few session days left it’s unlikely that the bill will be passed. Therefore, teachers will continue to be required to serve in May 2010.”
“We are therefore calling for adequate protection and compensation for teachers,” he added.
ACT is calling for 1) an increase in teachers’ compensation for election service, from the current rate of Php 1,000 per day to Php 2,000 per day; 2) provision of adequate security, insurance, and legal defense; and 3) thorough training in the new automated election system at the soonest possible time.
“Security is a major concern of teachers. Even though elections are now automated, we believe that teachers will still be subjected to harassment, intimidation and violence during the election period,” said Tinio, pointing out that two teachers were killed while serving in the 2007 national elections.
ACT also expressed concern that information on the new automated system was not being provided to teachers. “We hope that the COMELEC should at least provide teachers with a basic orientation on the new system at this stage.”
Reacting to COMELEC chairman Jose Melo’s statement that the poll body has insufficient funds for an increase in teachers’ pay, Tinio pointed out their demand could still be met. “That was also the reaction of then COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos in 2004, when we made a similar demand for increase in compensation. But with COMELEC and ACT working together we were able to get the Department of Budget and Management and Malacañang to release additional funds.”
ACT reiterated its call for a dialogue between COMELEC and the teachers. “We asked for a dialogue with Chairman Melo as early as September, but at the time it seems that COMELEC had other priorities.#
Antonio L. Tinio, ACT Chairperson and President, ACT TEACHERS Party-List