Teachers’ Election-Day plight
With the 2016 general elections in the offing, it’s high time the Commission on Elections and other concerned government agencies prepared for orderly, systematic and smooth casting and canvassing of votes.
In previous elections and other electoral exercises like plebiscites and referendums, public school teachers assigned to man voting precincts experienced difficulties and problems that could have been avoided had the Comelec adequately prepared for such processes.
Some of these problems included delayed delivery of election forms and paraphernalia, difficult-to-understand instructions from the poll body, crowded precincts, confusing last-minute announcements and unruly crowds (mostly kibitzers) during the counting of votes.
Please consider that teachers really sacrifice during elections. They skip meals to immediately accommodate voters, they have to deal with unreasonable candidates and their supporters and, most of all, they risk their lives and limbs just to protect the sanctity of the ballot.
In past elections, there were teachers who were subjected to harassment and physical harm because of their firm determination to conduct and preserve honest, orderly and fair elections. Not to be forgotten was Filomena Tatlonghari of Mabini, Batangas; she was mercilessly gunned down when she tried to protect, with her body, a ballot box from being snatched by the followers of an unscrupulous politician.
Likewise, many teachers of Tatalon Elementary School (since renamed Diosdado Macapagal Elementary School during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through the efforts of public officials led by Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr.) in Quezon City were harassed with, accused of and haled to court for fabricated charges by warring political factions. It is sadly ironic that in this case, the Comelec itself acted as the lead prosecutor, not as protector, of the downtrodden teachers whom it deputized and assigned to serve in electoral exercise. Indeed, it was a pathetic and pitiful experience for those teachers.
I am a former public school teacher and I served as chair of the board of election inspector. I understand the plight of the teachers who serve during elections. I commiserate with their problems. I appeal to the Comelec, please act to forestall unpleasant experiences for teachers serving during elections. Now! After all, they are the guardians of the ballot.
—EUSEBIO S. SAN DIEGO, founder of Kaguro, and former president of Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, firstname.lastname@example.org
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