100,000 teachers yet to receive poll duty pay: ACT

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers on Thursday picketed the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Manila to demand the release of unpaid wages for thousands of public school teachers who rendered poll duty on May 9.

The group estimates that three weeks after the elections, around 50,000 Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and 50,000 support staff nationwide have yet to receive the P4,500 honorarium for election day duty as well as the additional P500 travel allowance.

"Tapos na ang tungkulin ng mga teachers, pero itong tungkulin at responsibilidad ng Comelec hanggang ngayon ay naghahabol-habol pa na parang mga timawa ang mga teachers na ito," ACT national chairperson Benjie Valbuena told reporters.

The law mandates that payment of election workers should be given not more than 15 days after the election.

"Malaking bagay para sa mga teachers itong P5,000, pandugtong sa napakaliit nilang sahod. Parang sinuba, binalasubas ng Comelec ang ating mga teachers na ito," Valbuena added.

Public school teacher Amelia Serdena, who served as BEI in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, is one of the thousands of teachers who has not yet received her honorarium.

Serdena said she has gone to the municipal hall a number of times already to inquire about the status of her payment, but always went home empty-handed.

"Parang nakakapanghinayang ang pagod at puyat na binigay namin ng halos limang araw, pero ito ang binigay nila sa amin," Serdena said.

"Baka ngayon po dahil sa Election Service Reform Act, baka mas maraming guro na ang mag-ayaw magserbisyo pag patuloy na ganito ang serbisyo ng Comelec."

When asked by the media, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said that he is already looking into the situation.

"Humingi ako ng listahan ng mga hindi pa nababayaran. Ang isyu nga is that ang pagbayad sa kanila sa dalawang paraan, una ay yung through remittance sa kanilang ATM o sa mga debit cards. Humihingi ako ngayon ng report, although sabi sa akin most have already been paid," he said.

ParaƱaque election officer Frances Arabe said the problem with the payment may have stemmed from Landbank.

"It appears that the problem is with the third party provider. But these answers we do not get it from our main office, we got it from Landbank itself," Arabe said.

In a memorandum on Tuesday addressed to Bautista and finance services department head Zita Buena Castillon, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon urged the poll chief to order the compliance of the Finance Service Department for the payment of the BEIs.

Guanzon said that under Section 10 of the Election Service Reform Act, "any person who makes or causes the delay in payment of the honoraria and allowances due persons rendering service beyond the prescribed period of fifteen days from the date of the election shall be liable for an election offense."

Even members of the Comelec Employees Union joined the call for the immediate release of payment for the BEIs.

"Hindi na po ito dapat mangyayari, kasi po ang ating mga teachers ay nagsilbi naman ng maayos, naging episyente naman ang kanilang performance noong nakaraang eleksyon at hindi namin matanggap, kaming mga empleyado ng Comelec, na up until now hindi pa rin sila napapasahod," Mac Ramirez, president of the Comelec EU, said.

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