EDUCATION Secretary Leonor M. Briones on Thursday riterated her petition to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exempt from withholding taxes the honoraria of teachers during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on May 14.
Briones said she is seeking better compensation and protection for teachers who will opt to render their time, energy and safety to ensure the integrity of the ballot. She added she did not want teachers’ “meager allowance” encumbered by taxes.
“Prior to the effectivity of Esra, no poll honoraria were ever subjected to income tax. Now that Esra has improved the compensation package of our volunteer-teachers, it is only fitting that they truly benefit from their hard-earned compensation,” Briones said.
Esra, or the Election Service Reform Act (RA 10756), currently provides for higher honoraria, additional travel allowance, service credits, legal-indemnification package, medical assistance and death benefit for teachers and personnel who will volunteer for poll services.
She further requested the Comelec to permit the designation of authorized disbursing officer who will be allowed to draw cash advance for medical expenses of teachers who will serve in the electoral boards.
If granted, this will replace the common practice of medical reimbursements and help teachers who may need immediate hospital treatment and/or admission.
On top of the five-day service credit mandated by Esra in view of the manual conduct of elections, Briones also called for the grant of additional two days of service credits.
Reaffirming her earlier appeal to the Comelec, the secretary stated, “Department of Education [DepEd] teachers and personnel have long been at the forefront of every electoral exercise in the country; with their immense experience in carrying out this enormous task in clustered precincts of huge populations, we deem that evaluation and discussion on the possible increase in honoraria and allowance are just and necessary.”