THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cordillera is again considering the use of personnel from the Philippine National Police as Board of Election Tellers (BET) in Barangay Mabungtot, Lubuagan-Kalinga after receiving reports of teachers refusing to serve as BET’s for the May 13 midterm elections.
Lawyer Julius Torres Comelec Cordillera regional director said though this could be the worst case scenario, they are hopeful the Department of Education in the Cordillera can help resolve this situation and encourage their teachers to once again serve.
“The time that we allowed the PNP to sit as members of the electoral board is not really within the procedure of the law but was through a special approval by the Comelec en banc, so in case we will be fielding in personnel aside from teachers and if we will not be able to follow the hierarchy of officials that can be substituted for public school teachers as electoral boards, we will need a special approval from the en banc,” Torres said.
During the May 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, Comelec tapped the services of the police to serve as BET’s following the refusal of public school teachers in Lubuagan to serve, and as per request by the tribal elders in the said municipality.
“The worst case scenario really is that we allow registered voters to sit as members of the electoral board and as much as possible, we will try to avoid that. We have always required public school teachers because of their accountability being employees of government,” Torres stated.
While rendering election service is non-compulsory under Republic Act 10756, Comelec is confident there will be no shortage of teachers to serve during elections.
“During the last Barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections, we allowed the PNP to be the members of the electoral board in Kalinga because that was the request of the elders of the tribes. We still have to see the development regarding this matter, we have informed DepEd regarding this matter and we are asking for their help to convince their teachers to serve even on a voluntary basis,” Torres added.