P461 M for Teachers in July 15 Polls OKd; No Legal Impediment, SC rules.(Main News)

Article excerpt

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)

SC decision

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. …