By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
“Be neutral and nonpartisan.”
This is the reminder of the Department of Education (DepEd) to thousands of volunteer-teachers who will lead the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14.
“Our advice to our teachers is always to remain neutral and nonpartisan and in the event of whatever violence that will happen in the school, our law enforcers are always there,” said DepEd Undersecretary for Administration and Election Task Force (ETF) chairperson Alain Pascua during a press briefing late afternoon Saturday
“I think when it comes to violence in the polling places, the law enforcers are very ready to respond, and our teachers are advised to remain in their posts, in the classroom, and be very objective and fair,” Pascua added.
Full support for teacher–volunteers
Meanwhile, DepEd is scheduled to reactivate tomorrow, May 13, its Election Task Force (ETF) and Monitoring Center at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan in DepEd-Central Office, Pasig City.
Pascua, who is also the ETF chairperson, said more than 300 DepEd personnel and officials will give support to teachers who will serve in the local elections, through the ETF and Monitoring Center. He added that the ETF and Monitoring Center at the Central Office will be open starting the day before (May 13), on the day of the local elections (May 14) and until the day after (May to 15) to serve as command center for “addressing issues and problems of teacher-volunteers.”
“Our teachers are ready, aside from the Central Office, we are duplicating the Election Task Force in every region,” Pascua said. “We have encouraged every regional office, even the division office, to organize similar task force so we can provide support to our teachers,” he added.
Pascua noted that the task force will be set up not only in the DepEd Central Office but will also be replicated in other regions to “ensure that the teachers who will render poll duties will be given enough information and will be provided with technical and legal assistance if needed.”
Concerns, inquiries, and complaints of teacher-volunteers may be directed to the following ETF hotlines: Call Center: 637-3743, 635-9817, 706-5332; Operations and Legal Support Group: 638-7530, 638-7531; Secretariat: 633-7205, 634-0222; Communication Unit: 631-6033 and 635-0551.
Pascua also emphasized there is also an ongoing orientation for teachers in schools nationwide and webinar on the dos and don’ts in the conduct of their poll services conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).