By Lea Devio | The Manila Times
ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers (ACT Teachers) party-list Rep. France Castro filed House Resolution 2181 urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to review the amounts of honoraria and allowances granted to public school teachers and other persons who serve during elections.
"According to Section 4 of Republic Act 10756, or the "Election Service Reform Act," (ESRA) allowances and honoraria for election service volunteers shall be reviewed by the commission in consultation with the Department of Education every three years from the effectivity of this act," Castro said in a statement.
"Since the enactment of the ESRA law in 2016, amounts for honoraria and allowances have not once been reviewed and increased," she stressed.
Castro said the Comelec will likely adopt a 12-hour election or longer as contingencies to minimize and prevent further spread of Covid-19.
"Longer hours for voting would mean that poll workers will have to serve longer hours for their election duties considering they fulfill tasks other than the supervision of voting centers. They also are tasked to transport election paraphernalia, among others. This much time outside their homes and level of activity will significantly increase the exposure of poll workers to the Covid-19 virus," she added.
The lawmaker urged the Comelec to consider giving a Covid-19 daily hazard pay to all election service volunteers to compensate for their heightened risk of contracting the virus.
House Resolution 2181 seeks to increase ESRA benefits proposed by the ACT - P10,000 honoraria for chairpersons of electoral boards and P9,000 for members; P8,000 for Department of Education supervisor officials and P7,000 for support staff as well as travel allowance of P3,000 to P5,000 and food allowance of P2,500.
"These are just demands of our public school teachers who still consist of most of our election service volunteers. We also urge our fellow lawmakers in the House of Representatives to provide an adequate budget to the Comelec to ensure that these allowances and benefits will be provided to our poll workers," Castro said.
The Comelec proposed a P13-billion budget for 2022 to increase the honorarium, hazard pay and transportation allowance of poll workers in the 2022 elections but only P7 billion was proposed by the Department of Budget and Management.
"While it is true that poll workers are volunteers who undertake election duties and accept the attendant risks by choice, it is also true that they render an extraordinary service and unparalleled sacrifice to ensure the sanctity of a major democratic exercise. Indeed, it would be most unjust if [the] government pays election frontlines pre-pandemic compensation during these pandemic times," Castro pointed out.