Villar files bill making election service voluntary for teachers

March 11, 2012 12:16 am 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, March 10 – Recognizing the dedication of the public school teachers to serve the nation, Senator Manny Villar has filed a bill making election service voluntary for public school teachers and other citizens.

Villar filed Senate Bill No. 3142 or an Act Amending Section 3 of Republic Act No. 6646, otherwise known as the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987.

”Section 13 of the law mandates that public school teachers comprise the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI). Historically, they have acquitted themselves well in carrying out their election responsibilities,” Villar explained.

The lawmaker said the successes of national and local elections “are rightfully attributed” to the competence and hard work of teachers but most of the time, they make personal sacrifices over and above the call of duty.

Villar cited an example of teacher Filomena Tatlonghari who was shot and killed in the 1994 elections in Mabini, Batangas for refusing to surrender a ballot box to armed men and another teacher, Nelly Banaag who died protecting the ballots after masked armed men torched two classrooms which served as polling precincts in Taysan, Batangas in the 2007 elections.

”Mandatory election duty has long been an additional burden borne by public school teachers, who are already hard-pressed to provide quality education to our youth. In the face of low pay and difficult working conditions, in order to alleviate their plight, teachers must be given the freedom to choose whether or not they want to fulfill the roles of the BEI,” he said.

Villar, who ran and lost in the 2010 presidential elections, appealed to his colleagues in the Senate to support his bill.

”Elections are fundamental to a democratic country. Election service is an essential civic duty that should be made available to all concerned citizens. The appointment of BEIs from among the ranks of motivated, civic-minded volunteers will provide greater opportunities for people's participation in elections,” Villar stressed. (PNA)

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