TEACHERS expressed concern over the problems they foresee in the upcoming May 10 elections, said Undersecretary Franklin Sunga of the Department of Education (DepEd).

He issued the statement at the sidelines of the meeting of Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and freight forwarders at the Project Management Office of the Comelec in Manila, Friday.

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Among the fears of members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) is when they refuse a voter to vote since his or her name is listed in the Comelec watchlist, where multiple registrants are listed.

“One of their concerns is on how they will react if they are confronted by a voter who was refused to vote because his/her name is in the watchlist. They might be legally arguing there point and they are a little bit apprehensive about this,” he said.

The concerns were related to him by the teachers during the trainings being conducted for the BEIs in preparation for the scheduled polls.

The ongoing training of the teachers started on March 1 and will end on March 31.

Likewise, the teachers are concerned that they will be disenfranchised since the allotted time for them to cast their vote on election day is short.

Section 12 of the revised general instructions for the BEIs - Members of the BE1 who are registered voters in precincts other than where they are assigned, may avail of the Local Absentee Voting, or on the day of the elections, vote in the precincts where they are registered, provided that they do so when the voting in their respective places of assignments is light, and their absence shall not be for more than 20 minutes.

For this purpose, they shall schedule their voting so that only one member of the BE1 shall leave at any one time

“Sumulat na kami sa Comelec regarding this matter and we were informed this will be taken up next week by the Commission en banc. I hope it will be addressed kasi yung 20 minutes na pagboto ng mga teachers talagang kulang na kulang,” he added.

They also worry about the number of voters that will vote since many voting places have been clustered, the maximum of voter per precinct in the coming polls is 1,000 voters.

“Main concern nila napakarami ng boboto sa kanilng precinct, imagine around 1 thousand voters are assigned to their precinct,” Sunga said.

He added that they are set to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) next week, for lawyers will provide free legal assistance to teachers if cases will be filed against them in connection with their duties during the elections.

For his part, Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal urged the voters to visit local Comelec offices to look on their records so that they will know if they are on the voters list or not.

“We encourage people to visit the Comelec offices in the different cities and municipalities to just verify their records. It won’t hurt,” he said. (FP/Sunnex)