/ 7 May 2022

THE ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers called for honest and peaceful elections and urged the public to be vigilant and reject all forms of electoral fraud.

The group continued to press the Commission on Elections to ensure the welfare and safety of teachers who will serve as Board of Election Inspectors.

“Malaking hamon sa sambayanang Pilipino ang parating na halalan. Hindi pa man nagsisimula ang eleksiyon, malaganap na ang iba’t ibang porma ng dayaan. Our teachers are not only at the frontlines of the actual elections, but are also at the frontlines of the fight against disinformation which is the most prevalent form of fraud during this election season. Malaki ang taya ng ating mga guro ngayon, lalo na at doble ang peligrong haharapin sa gitna ng pandemya at eleksiyon,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general, said.

Initial reports submitted to the ACT Hotline revealed multiple cases of red-tagging and disinformation against opposition candidates. One report noted that there were 50 red-tagging tarpaulins found in Brgy. Payatas in Quezon City, bearing enlarged images of President Duterte with direct quotes of him calling the party-lists under Makabayan bloc as “legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.”

Caloocan City residents said that the same smear campaign was launched against supporters of the ACT Teachers Party-list.

“Disinformation is a vile tactic to deliberately mislead and miseducate the people. Its harms cannot be overstated in this period where no less than the country’s future is at stake in one of the most important political exercises that the people will participate in. As teachers, we implore our voters to discern truths from falsehoods, let us reject the lies that only seek to poison the sound judgement of the people,” Basilio said.

“These accusations have not been proven in court or elsewhere. Its purveyors have not presented any verifiable basis for such allegations. All it has done during this election season is deceive the electorate and harass the opposition, which unsurprisingly serves the campaign of candidates aligned with the current administration,” he added.

ACT said that it also monitored via its hotline issues faced by Board of Election Inspectors. One report noted of BEIs being forced to report in the wee hours of morning for the Final Testing and Sealing.

Another report from Bicol and Eastern Visayas showed that the release of precinct assignments came late, thus teachers assigned in distant areas were unable to apply for early voting.

“We continue to monitor the ground situation of our BEIs and expect more reports to come in, especially on election day. We call on Comelec to address these issues urgently. Most of the welfare issues suffered by teachers are generally old news, as government inefficiency has always fallen on their shoulders. Despite this, the government continues to deny teacher-poll workers substantial compensation and even quadrupled the tax imposition on their honoraria and allowances,” Basilio said.

Given the ‘high stakes’ elections, ACT called for utmost vigilance against any attempt to rig the election results.

“Hindi na bago ang dayaan sa halalan sa Pilipinas. Our own history tells us that the forces who are desperate to be in power, and has the money and connection to rig the election has done it before. On the other hand, history also teaches us that a vigilant citizenry who is resolute in protecting their ballots can effectively prevent the evil plans of anti-democracy forces,” Basilio said.