Bill makes election service voluntary for teachers and other citizens

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ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio
ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio

MANILA, 10Sept2013 (PNA) – ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio has filed a bill that makes election service voluntary for public school teachers and other motivated and civil-minded citizens as well.

House Bill 444 provides that public school teachers, private school teachers, government employees and citizens of known probity and competence who are registered voters of the city or municipality may volunteer to serve on election day.

It seeks to amend Section 13 of Republic Act 6656 otherwise known as The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, which mandates public school teachers to render poll service during election period as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).

Under Tinio’s bill, Section 13 of RA 6646 shall read as follows: “Section 13. Board of Election Inspectors – The Board of Inspectors to be constituted by the Commission (Comelec) under Section 164 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 shall be composed of a chairman and two members, one of whom shall be designated as poll clerk, all of whom shall be volunteers who are registered voters of the city or municipality where they wish to serve on election day, in accordance with the following order of preference: 1) Public School teachers; 2) Private School teacher; 3) Employees in the government; or 4) Citizens of known probity and competence.”

“Time and again, the success of national and local elections is rightfully attributed to the competence and hard work of teachers. All too often, teachers on election duty have made personal sacrifices over and above the call of duty,” Tinio said.

Tinio recalled that in the 1995 elections, teacher Filomena Tatlonghari was shot and killed in Mabini, Batangas, for refusing to surrender a ballot box to armed men. In the 2007 polls, teacher Nelly Banaag died protecting ballots after masked armed men torched two classrooms which served as polling precincts in Taysan, Batangas.

“In the 2010 national and barangay elections, many more unsung heroes faced tremendous odds just to ensure the people’s votes are kept safe,” Tinio added.

Tinio said “mandatory election duty has long been additional burden borne by public school teachers, who are already hard-pressed to provide quality education to our youth, in the face of low pay and difficult working conditions.”

“In order to alleviate their plight, teachers must be given the freedom to choose whether or not they want to fulfill the roles of the BEI,” he said.

Tinio stressed election service is an essential civic duty that should be made available to all concerned citizens and not just to teachers.

“The appointment of members to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) from among the ranks of motivated, civic-minded volunteers will provide greater opportunities for people’s participation in the electoral processes under our democratic system,” Tinio said. (PNA)

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