/ 1 September 2021

ACT TEACHERS Partylist Rep. France Castro on Tuesday urged her colleagues in the House of Representatives to urgently hear a resolution urging the Commission on Elections to review the honoraria and allowances given to teachers and other persons rendering election service.

Castro filed House Resolution 2181 that aims to provide an adequate budget for the substantial increase in the allowances and benefits of poll workers.

She explained that under Section 4 of Republic Act 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act, allowances and honoraria for election service volunteers shall be reviewed by the Commission in consultation with the DepEd every three years from the effectivity of the law.

Since the enactment of the ESRA law in 2016, amounts for honoraria and allowances have not once been reviewed and increased.

“Comelec already stated that it will likely adopt a 12-hour election day or even longer as contingencies to minimize and prevent further spread of Covid19. Longer hours for voting would mean that poll workers will have to serve longer hours for their election duties considering they fulfill tasks other than supervision of voting centers. They also are tasked to transport election paraphernalia among others. This much time outside their homes and level of activity will significantly increase the exposure of poll workers to the Covid-19 virus,” Castro said.

She added that lawmakers have to ensure that the poll body has ample funds to provide higher remuneration to election workers.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers proposed increases in the ESRA benefits, namely honoraria of P10,000 for chairpersons of Electoral Boards and P9,000 for members; P8,000 for poll supervisors; and P7,000 for support staff as well as travel allowance of P3,000 to P5,000 and food allowance of P2,500.

“These are just demands of our public school teachers who still consist of most of our election service volunteers. We also urge our fellow lawmakers in the House of Representatives to provide an adequate budget to the Comelec to ensure that these allowances and benefits will be provided to our poll workers,” Castro added.

The poll body proposed a P13 billion budget for 2022 to increase the honorarium, hazard pay and transportation allowance of poll workers for the national elections but only P7 billion was proposed by the Department of Budget and Management in the 2022 proposed national budget for Comelec.