BACOLOD City Election Registrar Mavil Majarucon-Sia appealed to public school teachers to serve in the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14.
Majarucon-Sia said Friday that on February 7, she met with City Schools Division Superintendent Cynthia Demavivas after some of the teachers, who are members of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Negros signified not to serve in the barangay and SK elections.
Bacolod has 846 clustered precincts and needs 2, 538 teachers to serve as members of Electoral Board and Barangay Boards of Canvassers.
Majarucon-Sia said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will implement Republic Act 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act, which makes election duties non-compulsory for public school teachers, but she is hopeful that the teachers will continue to serve because they have the experience and expertise to do so.
“We sent communications to the public school principals to get the names of the teachers who are willing to serve in the elections since it is now non-compulsory. After two days, most of the teachers withdrew their names and signified that they are no longer interested to serve,” she said.
She added that Demavivas informed her that the members of ACT-Negros want to negotiate with her before they will agree to serve in barangay and SK elections.
“But I am not authorize to negotiate with them and I cannot act on their demands and sentiments. I can only talk and listen to them,” Majarucon-Sia added.
On February 7, the Bacolod City Public School Teachers Federation (BCPSTF) approved a resolution reaffirming the previous stand of the Board of Directors of the Federation that their members will not serve in the coming elections unless their demands are met by the Comelec Bacolod.
The BCPSTF resolution, signed by president Gualberto Dajao, stated that there are still three teachers of Rizal Elementary School who are anguishing due to the unresolved case filed against them during the last barangay election and they were ordered to pay a big amount by virtue of a demand letter.
The Comelec Bacolod did not provide them with legal, financial, and even a mere moral support to defend themselves, it added.
Election honoraria in the past elections were released by the Comelec after a long period of time, making teachers suffer under a difficult condition of claiming their honoraria from the Land Bank, the resolution further said.
It also stated that Comelec Bacolod showed indifference to the issues and was not seen taking effort to facilitate the immediate release of teachers’ honoraria and the service credits granted by the Comelec do not commensurate to the number of days where teachers rendered their election services.
Election service is no longer compulsory for public school teachers, the resolution added.
Majarucon-Sia denied that the Comelec failed to act on the legal cases filed against the teachers after the elections.
She recalled that in 2014, a councilman of Barangay 12 filed charges against the three public school teachers after they committed a mistake in proclaiming the winning candidates.
“While the case is ongoing, the teachers involved failed to answer the pleadings and it was the Comelec which answered the charges,” she said.
The Comelec Central Office also allotted budget for legal assistance to teachers, she added.
For this year’s election, teachers appointed as chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors will receive P7,000 as honorarium while the members will get P6,000 each.
“Since I assumed my post here, I have always released their honorarium, half of the amount released before the election and the other half on the day of the election,” Majarucon-Sia.
Thousands of teachers, who are not members of ACT-Negros, signified their intention to serve, but Comelec still needs 500 teachers more.
She added that if teachers refuse to serve, they will hire government employees who are qualified or an ordinary citizen who is a registered voter and qualified to serve in the elections.