Officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) in Negros Oriental on Friday raised concerns to authorities over their safety and security during the conduct of the May 9 national and local elections.
Their concerns were addressed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the 6th Provincial Joint Security Control Center (JPSCC) meeting at the Marian Priests’ Center in this capital.
Negros Oriental provincial schools superintendent Dr. Senen Paulin said one of their main concerns is the safety of their teachers as he cited some instances in the previous elections where they were “harassed” by certain political quarters.
“We would like to know what the teachers can specifically do in cooperating with our military and police without compromising their safety,” Paulin said.
He also appealed to the Comelec for final briefings so they can be given clear instructions on safety and security prior to election day.
In response, lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, the Comelec-Negros Oriental provincial election supervisor-designate, said his office is now preparing a presentation for the final briefing to be attended by police and Army personnel.
“Our intention for this final meeting will be for the police, military, teachers, and volunteers from the PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) assigned to the same voting precinct or center for them to get to know each other,” Castillano said in mixed English and Cebuano.
That way, there will be smooth coordination among them before election day, he added.
Paulin also cited their concern during the actual election and how the teachers can make a report to the security forces when a problem arises.
Under the law, police and military personnel are deputized to secure the polling areas and can only stay at a distance of 50 meters away. But with the authorization of the electoral board, they can come closer when needed.
Castillano said they will prepare Pro-forma forms for the electoral boards on this matter.
A total of 2,942 teachers in Negros Oriental who will comprise the electoral boards for the May 9 elections have completed their training on the use of the vote-counting machines (VCMs).
The last batch of teachers who completed the training on Thursday was from Guihulngan City.
Castillano said that during the series of training for the teachers, he reminded them that as government service employees, they should not engage in partisan politics to avoid intimidation by candidates and their supporters.
The teachers are also reminded to be “very careful” especially on social media, and to “appear to be politically neutral” and not campaign for candidates.
“Think before you click, otherwise we will have difficulty securing you because you will now be branded,” he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency