Higher honoraria, no tax, more benefits for poll volunteer teachers urged

Upholding the welfare and protection of teachers who will choose to serve in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataanelections on May 14, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones petitioned to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the increase of honoraria and allowances and exemption from the imposition of withholding tax on such compensation.

“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," Briones said.

Last April 23, the Education chief also appealed to Comelec that teachers who opt to render their time, energy, and safety to ensure the integrity of the ballot must not be encumbered by tax on their meager allowance.

The Secretary pointed out that prior to the effectivity of ESRA, no poll honoraria were ever subjected to income tax. Now that Republic Act No. 10756, or the Election Service Reform Act (ERSA) has improved the compensation package of volunteer-teachers, it is only fitting that they truly benefit from their hard-earned compensation.

ESRA 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 poll services.

The Secretary further requested 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 days service credit mandated by ESRA in view of the manual conduct of elections, Briones also called for the grant of additional two days service credits.

Earlier today in Davao City, Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua and Assistant Secretary for Procurement Field Operations Revsee Escobedo shared the news during the 1st Regional Assembly of Educational Leaders, wherein more than 3,000 delegates applauded the DepEd chief's efforts.