P461 M for Teachers in July 15 Polls OKd; No Legal Impediment, SC rules.(Main News)
Byline: E. T. SUAREZ, REY G. PANALIGAN, & FERDIE J. MA
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) turned over yesterday to the Department of Education (DepEd) a check for P461,061,600 to pay the per diem of public school teachers who will render poll duties in the July 15 joint Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and barangay elections as members of the Boards of Election Tellers (BETs).
The check was handed by Commissioner Rufino S.B. Javier, the most senior Comelec commissioner in the absence of Chairman Benjamin Abalos, to DepEd Undersecretary Ramon Bacani who represented Education Secretary Raul Roco.
The turnover of the check was witnessed by Commissioners Ralph C. Lantion, Mehol K. Sadain, Resurreccion Z. Borra, and Florentino Tuazon Jr., and DepEd Undersecretary Ernesto Pangan.
Abalos and Commissioner Luzviminda G. Tancangco failed to make it to yesterday's turnover ceremony and signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Comelec and DepEd as they were reported to be in Zamboanga del Sur attending to some problems arising from the coming SK and barangay polls.
Each of the public school teachers who will render poll duties will be paid a per diem of P800. They were likewise granted by the Comelec in-house insurance package with a maximum coverage of P100,000 for election-related injury, sickness, or death in the manner allowed by law.
The Comelec also committed to ensure the security of the members of the BETs who are assigned to perform election duty in areas with peace and order problems.
The DepEd, on the other hand, bound itself to adopt measures for the expeditious payment of per diem of P800 each to the members of the BET who actually performed election tasks and to grant a five-day leave credits to them and other DepEd personnel performing poll duties.
Legal assistance will also be extended in the manner allowed by law to members of BETs who will perform their duties to ensure the conduct of free, orderly, honest, and peaceful and credible elections who may later on be charged with criminal and administrative cases in connection with the performance of their election duties, DepEd officials said.
DepEd committed to liquidate within a period of 90 days from the date of the election the amount of PP461,061,600, subject to existing auditing rules and regulations.
Among the responsibilities of the BETs are to guarantee the conduct of a free, orderly, peaceful, and credible elections, and set example of neutrality especially in precincts where they are assigned.
The BET is composed of a chairman and two members, all of whom are public school teachers. The chairman of BET is required to designate one of the members as poll clerk and the other as third member. They are bound to maintain order within the polling place and its premises, keep access open, and unobstructed, and to enforce obedience to its lawful orders.
The BET could order the arrest of any person disobeying its lawful order and direct any peace officer to take such person into its custody. (ETS)
There is no legal impediment to the holding on Monday of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections nationwide as the Supreme Court dismissed a petition that challenged the postponement of the polls from May 6 to July 15 and the reduction of the age qualification of candidates.
Monday's SK elections is synchronized with the barangay elections.
The dismissal upheld, in effect, the constitutionality of Republic Act (RA) 9164 that reduced the age qualification to at least 15 to less than 18 years.
The Local Government Code under RA 7160 provided that memberships in the SK are limited to those at least 15 but not more than 21 years old.
At the same time, the High Court said that the petition failed to show that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) abused its power in recommending to Congress the postponement of the elections from May 6 to July 15.
It said the Comelec merely exercised its power "to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election."
The petition even cited the efforts exerted by the Comelec in confornting the problems in the SK elections originally set May 6.
In a unanimous decision written by Associate Justice Anotonio Carpio, the High Court said there was no actual challenge to the constitutionally of RA 9164 that reduced the age qualification.
It said the petition filed by SK members Antoniette Montesclaros, Maricel Caranzo, Josephine Atangan, Ronald Atangan, and Clarize Decena challenged the constitutionality of RA 9164 when it was merely a bill pending in Congress.
The petitioners claimed that they would be disenfranchised with the reduction of the age qualification and the disenfranchisement would affect about seven million youths in the country.
It pointed out that the petition was filed last March 11 and challenged the constitutionality of the bill. RA 9164 was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last March 19.
After the passage of RA 9164, the SK members who signed the petition failed to challenge the constitutionality of any of its provisions.
"To grant petitioners' prayer to be allowed to vote and be voted for in the July 15, 2002 SK elections necessitates assailing the constitutionality of RA 9164."
"This, petitioners have not done. The court will not strike down a law unless its constitutionality is properly raised in an appropriate action and adequately argued," the High Court said.
The proposed bill challenged in the petition cannot be reviewed by the courts, not even the Supreme Court because it is not a law, it said. It added that it can exercise its power of judicial review only when a bill has been enacted into a law.
It said that courts cannot stop Congress from passing any law or dictate a bill that it should pass into law. At the same time, it said, "the court has no power to compel Congress by mandamus to enact a law allowing petitioners, regardless of their age, to vote and be voted for in the July 15, 2002 SK elections."
"To do so would destroy the delicate system of checks and balances finely crafted by the Constitution for the three co-equal, coordinate, and independent branches of government," it said. (RGP)
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared July 15 a special non-working holiday to allow the public adequate time to fully and actively participate in this year's barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
The President, in issuing Proclamation No. 217 she signed yesterday, underscored the need for the Filipino electorate to show its faith once more in the democratic electoral exercise by going out and casting their votes on July 15.
"It is important to give the people the fullest opportunity to participate in the elections and exercise their right to vote," she said of the simultaneous conduct of the barangay and SK elections throughout the country.
The President, in her recent national television address, called on the public to go out and vote on July 15 in order to show to the whole world that the Filipino people has not lost its faith in how democracy actually works in the country.
The President stressed the need to elect barangay and SK candidates who will guard and protect the public against criminality and address the daily concerns of the community, including peace and order.
Mrs. Arroyo has regarded barangay officials as the government's first line of defense in the fight against illegal drugs and kidnap-for-ransom activities, including against those groups which are out to destabilize the government. (FJM)…
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Publication information: Article title: P461 M for Teachers in July 15 Polls OKd; No Legal Impediment, SC rules.(Main News). Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Manila Bulletin. Publication date: July 10, 2002. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.