REACTING to the plight of teachers, City Councilor Ma. Belen Acosta demanded Tuesday measures to be implemented for the teachers’ interest as overseeing body of the national and local elections.

Acosta said the Omnibus Elections Code, amended by the Automated Election System Act, appoints educators as members constituting the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI).

She said concerns including raising the teacher's honorarium were raised through her public affairs program Mabel at Your Service in ABS-CBN dxAB, among other means.

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"Some public school teachers, most of whom are members of the Teacher's Organization of the Philippines in Public Sector or Topps, an organization of around 10,000 members nationwide, reiterated that while performing their tasks as BEI members, they (face threats to their safety)," Acosta said in her privilege speech.

"We have witnessed in the several elections in the past how our teachers, while performing their tasks as BEI members, were oftentimes harassed and become overly worked up while the government often has not giving them the proper recognition and remuneration they deserve which can be considered commensurate to the magnitude of the functions they perform," Acosta said.

"As BEI members, it is the teachers who ensure that our right of suffrage is exercised and that our votes are counted and protected," Acosta said.

With this, Acosta informed fellow councilors the content of the resolution she wants the City Council to raise to the Commission on Elections (Comelec):

(1) Early training on the mechanics of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines which will be used for the automated elections;

(2) The teachers, Acosta said, also requests that they be given food and transportation allowance during such trainings;

(3) That free legal assistance and services be provided to the teachers in line with the performance of their functions as BEI members;

(4) Free insurance in times of accidents, deaths, and any untoward incidents that may happen to teachers while performing their duties in the elections;

(5) Increase in the teachers' honoraria per day, from P1000 to P2,000, and further urge the Comelec to make sure that at least 50 percent of their honoraria be given a day before they start their deployment, and the remaining 50 percent be given immediately after the day of the election;

(6) The teachers be provided with free transportation to and from the place of their deployment to receive elevation forms, documents and supplies from the Municipality/City Treasurer and Comelec Election Officer, considering there are teachers who will be assigned in far flung areas, and if they will not be provided with free transportation, they will be forced to spend their own money; and

(7) The teachers be protected from harm, physical or in other forms, when they perform their duties during the conduct of elections, especially in areas known as electoral 'hot spots'. Teachers would want the Comelec to assign authorized security personnel who would be well within their reach when they need assistance pertaining to peace and order in the vicinity.

Acosta also raised that in connection to the teacher's honoraria, there are still some teachers in the city who served in connection with the Sangguniang Kabataan election who have not yet received their honoraria.

Acosta called upon the members of the council to "rally behind and support out teachers" in their demand for better conditions.

"I see (the teachers') request valid and legitimate, considering the role they play in out electoral process. They deserve no less," Acosta said.

The resolution Acosta would propose would urge the Comelec "to look into the plight of our teachers, take immediate and positive action on their demands and concerns, and give them what is rightfully due to them." (Jade C. Zaldivar)