Teachers demand better pay, safety measures for 2022 ‘pandemic poll duty’

Teachers asked the House of Representatives (HOR) to ensure better pay and safety measures when they render poll duties in next year’s national and local elections.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) members held a picket to press these demands at the HOR on Tuesday as Congress deliberated on the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) 2022 budget.

As the next elections would be held during a deadly pandemic, ACT said it will likely be among the most challenging in history.

“As teachers will be at the front lines of possibly one of the most precarious elections in recent years, we are calling on our legislators to not be too tightfisted and allot significant amount for poll workers’ compensation and for the establishment of safety and protective measures,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

ACT seeks for the following tax-exempt honoraria for board of election inspectors (BEI) members who are mostly composed of teachers:

  • Php10,000 for chairpersons of the electoral board;
  • Php9,000 for electoral board members;
  • Php8,000 for DepEd Supervisor Official (DESO);
  • Php7,000 for support staff; and
  • Php3,000 travel allowance for those in urban areas and Php5,000 for those in rural areas.

ACT said each poll worker should also be paid Php2,500 in food allowance and Php500 in hazard pay in addition to overtime pay for services rendered in excess of 24 hours on election day.

Both Comelec and the Department of Education earlier announced their desire to ask Congress for higher pay for teacher-poll workers.

ACT however expressed fears the PhP15-billion cut to Comelec’s original 2022 budget proposal would undermine their demand for “a proper, peaceful, and safe conduct of the 2022 elections.”

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the electoral boards will be the “most affected” by the planned budget proposal reduction by the HOR.

ACT’s Basilio recalled teachers faced many problems in the 2019 mid-term elections, such as insufficient pay and allowances that were taxed, uncompensated overtime of poll workers of up to 48 hours, health and safety concerns, among others.

“It’s always those on the ground who suffer the effects of paltry funding and poor planning, despite being the very backbone of facilitating the people’s exercise of their right to vote…[W]e expect our legislators to utilize the power given to them by the people to address all the issues concerning the 2022 elections, he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)