Group calls for sufficient funding for the remuneration and welfare of election officials – Manila bulletin
Preparing for one of the most difficult elections in recent history, a group of education workers have called for sufficient funding to ensure adequate compensation for teachers who will serve in the 2022 election.
âAs teachers will be on the front lines of one of the most precarious elections in recent years, we call on our lawmakers not to be too tight and to allocate significant sums for compensation for election workers and for place of security and protection measures, âAlliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines General Secretary Raymond Basilio.
ACT members visited the House of Representatives on September 28 as Congress deliberated on the 2022 budget of the Electoral Commission (Comelec).
ACT deplored the âbudget cutâ for Comelec, whose proposal was reduced by 15 billion pesos despite âclear indicationsâ that the next elections will be difficult due to the current situation of the coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) in the country.
The teachers, who sit on the Council of Electoral Inspectors (BEI), anticipate more perilous conditions amid the raging pandemic and worsening socio-economic crises and demand better salaries and social guarantees for electoral officials, ACT said.
“These are essential elements to strengthen efforts to ensure a correct, peaceful and secure conduct of the 2022 elections,” added Basilio.
Since the beginning of this year, ACT has contacted Comelec to guarantee substantial increases in the fees and allowances of electoral agents.
The group is also pushing for preventive health measures related to COVID-19 and other support mechanisms to be taken in light of the current crisis in the country.
In particular, ACT seeks the following tax-exempt compensations for BEIs: 10,000 pesos for the presidents of the electoral council; P9000 for members of the electoral council; P8000 for DepEd Supervisor Official (DESO); P 7,000 for support staff; and P3,000 travel allowance for those living in urban areas or the city proper and P5,000 for those in rural areas.
ACT is also pushing for the provision of a P2 500 food allowance; P500 risk premium; and Overtime pay for services rendered for more than 24 hours on election day.
The Ministry of Education (DepEd) and Comelec have previously announced their joint intention to increase the salaries of teacher-researchers.
However, ACT noted that a “massive cut” in Comelec’s funding proposal threatened the fulfillment of the said announcement.
Quoting Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, ACT noted that electoral commissions will be “most affected” by the budget cut.
“It is always those on the ground who suffer the effects of paltry funding and poor planning, although they are the very backbone of making it easier for people to exercise the right to vote,” said Basilio. “Our commitment and service to the country on this important day should not come at the expense of our own well-being, as before,” he added.
For ACT, teacher-researchers deserve to be “correctly remunerated and their well-being taken care of, especially since it is well known to what extent they are overworked, underpaid and underfunded in their own profession â.
ACT expressed hope that what happened in the 2019 midterm elections – where the BEIs faced considerable issues such as wages and allowances plus taxes, overtime unpaid election officials for up to 48 hours, health and safety issues – will not happen again.
Thus, the group urged lawmakers to “exhaust their powers and correct the misallocation of funds” in the 2022 national budget.
“As duly elected officials themselves – with quite a few candidates vying for re-election – we expect our lawmakers to use the power bestowed upon them by the people to deal with all matters relating to the 2022 elections. “said Basilio.
“It should be in their interest to ensure the well-being of those on the front lines of the elections as a crucial measure to ensure the conduct of the next national elections,” he added.
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