MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) replaced more than 400 teachers who were supposed to serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Alberto Muyot said.
“Instead of our teachers serving as BEIs, members of the PNP will take their place. On standby are another 200 PNP personnel who, when needed, can also be deployed in other ARMM provinces,” Muyot said.
Nearly half of the 200 BEIs from Lanao del Sur boycotted their poll duty a day before the 2016 polls. Another 200 from Maguindanao followed suit on election day, May 9.
The teachers reportedly boycotted their poll duties due to security reasons. Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur were included in the PNP’s election watchlist areas (EWAs).
Areas under EWA have current incidents or have a history of election-related violence, intense political rivalry, armed groups, and hotly-contested political positions.
There are more than 277,000 teachers and 9,400 support staff members serving as BEIs. DepEd mobilized more than 410,000 personnel for the 2016 elections.
“So far, many of the reports have to do with the delays in the voting because of problems with the vote-couting machines,” Muyot added.
Posponed elections in Sarangani town
Meanwhile, Muyot also said that ballots intended for a polling precinct in Sarangani were instead delivered to Sta. Cruz, Masbate, causing the postponement of elections in the town.
The DepEd Election Task Force (ETF) opened at 1 pm on Sunday, May 8, and will provide assistance until 10 pm a day after the May 9 elections. The command centers are located at DepEd central, regional, and division offices, said Muyot.
The command centers are watching out for reports of violence and harassments against teachers, and are expected to provide teachers the necessary information and technical assistance, Muyot said.
Teachers regularly serve as BEIs, conducting the voting and counting proceedings in the national and local elections. This will change in the next elections because of a newly signed law that gives public school teachers the option not to serve as members of the BEI.
DepEd supervisors will also visit polling centers to observe and provide assistance on site. When problems arise, Muyot said the DepEd supervisors are the ones expected to make coordinations with the ETF command offices and make sure that the BEIs do not have to leave their posts. – Rappler.com