MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Education said Thursday it asked the Commission on Elections to give higher pay to education workers who would serve as poll officials in the 2022 elections.
In a February 15 letter to Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas, Education Secretary Leonor Briones pressed the commission to increase the honoraria for teaching and non-teaching personnel who would serve as poll workers next year, citing the continued risk of COVID-19 and inflation.
"We recognize that there is a need for a higher compensation for the teachers because the risk of the COVID-19 is still here. We also made sure that the requested amount or rates prescribed are just and reasonable," Briones said.
The DepEd proposed a P9,000 compensation for chairpersons of electoral boards and P8,000 for board members.
The Department of Education Supervisor Official (DESO) and the support staff should be given P7,000 and P5,000, respectively, the agency said.
Under the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), chairpersons of electoral boards are paid P6,000 while members get P5,000. DESO and support staff get an honoraria of P4,000 and P2,000, respectively.
The department also requested a P500 daily COVID-19 hazard pay for authorized poll workers on top of the benefits already given under the ESRA.
The agency asked the Comelec to also consider the provision of on-site swab testing and other health services, P2,000 transportation allowance, and P1,000 food and water allowance.
Members of the Comelec-DepEd Monitoring and Coordination teams should also be given honoraria, the DepEd said.
"These teams will ensure that teachers will be provided with adequate information, technical and legal assistance in performing their respective roles in the election," it explained.
The department requested as well for funding for the maintenance and repair of schools that would be used as voting centers.
It recommended for teachers to work for a maximum of 8 hours, "including the preparation and the post-election activities."
Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua said the Comelec was still discussing the matter on higher compensation and additional benefits.
"If COMELEC considers the proposal, they have to incorporate that in their proposed 2022 budget for submission to DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and then to Congress," he told ABS-CBN News in a Viber message.
Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body would "work with the DepEd in order to find ways to either accommodate their requests or, in the appropriate instances, to help them achieve the results they seek."
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers welcomed the DepEd's proposal but said education workers' election service compensation should be free from taxes.
"[This] has [been] their dilemma in the past two elections as taxes on election service compensation diminished their honoraria, and processing of documents caused them too much trouble and extra expenses," the group said in a statement.
— With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News