DAVAO CITY – A party list lawmaker who filed a bill making election service non-compulsory to public teachers is urging President Benigno Aquino III to sign the measure as soon as possible, with local and national polls taking place this year.
“While teachers have discharged the burden of obligatory election service well, their ranks have also paid the price,” said ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio.
The said bill, also known as the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), has been approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, January 26, Congress passed the version of the Senate’s House of amendments, elating its authors who introduced the bill in memory of several public school teachers who died protecting election ballots.
“We dedicate the passage of this law to the memory of Filomena Tatlonghari, Nellie Banaag, and other teachers who gave their lives while serving in elections,” said Tinio.
Tatlonghari was killed in a ballot box-snatching incident in Mabini, Batangas in 1995, while Banaag died when her school was burned down by armed men during the 2007 elections.
Once ESRA is turned into a law, election service for public school teachers will no longer be mandatory among public school teachers.
Also, teachers and other citizens involved in election service would see an increase in honoraria and receive medical and legal assistance.
ESRA was introduced at the lower house in 2013, and was created in memory of several public school teachers who died protected election ballots.
Under the Congress-approved bill, private school teachers; national government employees (excluding military personnel); members of the Commission on Elections-accredited citizens’ arms; and any qualified registered voter with no partisan political affiliations, may be tasked to take election service in cases when the number of volunteering public school teachers is not enough.
ESRA also mandates COMELEC to determine if there is still material time to implement non-compulsory election service in the 2016 national and local elections. Otherwise, the proposed law takes effect in the next elections. (davaotoday.com)