MANILA -- The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging teachers and other individuals serving as electoral boards in Monday's polls to avail of legal assistance under Republic Act 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act for any legal harassment or problem they encounter in the performance of their duties.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has created a special trust fund pursuant to RA 10756 to cover the cost of legal assistance, medical assistance, and legal indemnification for persons rendering election-related service.
In addition to honoraria, travel allowances, and service credit, all teachers and individuals serving in the Electoral Boards are also now entitled to Medical Assistance of up to PHP200,000 and legal protection and assistance, he said in a statement.
We have come a long way in promoting the rights of our teachers who serve in our elections. If ever they encounter legal problems, all they need to do is to make a claim with the Comelec or with their agency, the Department of Education, and there are already systems in place to protect their rights, he added.
Malaya, who is a member of the Task Force Kontra Bigay, said members of electoral boards are entitled to legal assistance and other forms of legal protection under the said law.
They are also entitled to indemnification for legal costs and expenses reasonably incurred if they were subject of any complaint while serving as a member of the Electoral Board, he added.
He said with the creation of the Legal Indemnification Package by Comelec, teachers are now better protected than in any national election in the past.
Teachers are doing election duty over and above the call of duty, so we are pleased that they now have legal protection from unscrupulous candidates or politicians who want to harass them, he added.
Each claimant shall be entitled to a minimum amount of PHP50,000 as legal indemnification. The Comelec has created a Committee on Claims and Assessment to process applications for legal indemnification.
The Comelec will also enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Public Attorney's Office and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines so that legal assistance may be given to any member of the Electoral Board who is subject to legal harassment, he said.
He also said that Comelec may also direct the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency to provide security to any teacher experiencing imminent threat of violence, harassment, or intimidation as a result of his or her election service.
The DILG also welcomed the decision of the Comelec to exempt from income tax the honoraria and allowances of teachers serving as electoral boards if their annual income does not exceed the PHP250,000 threshold.
This is good news to all our Electoral Boards. We congratulate Comelec for coming up with this win-win solution for all of them. Election service is now voluntary to teachers so those serving can make a personal choice and they cannot be coerced to do so by the Commission, he said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency