It is election season once again. We can already feel the election fever on tv with all those campaign materials in advertisements. While I was at the computer last night, one of those ads was on and I heard my eldest daughter complain. Something like "arghh, not that again." I was thinking, maybe, there goes one vote.
Anyway, the question of teachers manning the polls is once again the topic in our forum at the PTN. Apparently, there has been a move to spare teachers from this mandate from the constitution. I received from my email a link to a news in the House of Representatives of a proposal to relieve teachers from this mandate, which incidentally was passed in 2005 yet. It goes something like this:
TO ALLOW public school teachers to concentrate fully on their teaching duties, thereby improving the quality of education in the country, Marinduque Representative Edmundo Reyes Jr. filed House Bills 2864 and 2898 seeking to release them from compulsory election duties.
While this is good news to teachers, for I am sure, they do not need this thankless job (added to teaching which can also be a thankless job altogether...sometimes) the task has always been the cause of heartaches and headaches, if not totally puts the teachers in danger. I can only imagine hot spots where candidates kill themselves just to get elected. I have heard of stories about teachers subjected to harassment by candidates and/or their minions during election time. And yes, the sleepless nights counting the ballots, taking these to the municipal hall, etc.
Eusebio San Diego, president of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, informed the body of the negative consequences arising from the compulsory service imposed upon public school teachers during election time.
The teachers, he said, are confronted with election offenses aside from fatigue, lack of sleep and overwork. Others are gunned down or exposed to other election-related violence, he added.
While I agree with Rep. Eulogio "Amang" Magsaysay that the teachers must focus their attention on improving the quality of education in the country, yet, I have been thinking, if not the teachers, then who? The best scenario would be volunteers but then, how sure can we be that these volunteers are not partisan in nature? Would they be as subjective? It would be easy for a candidate to fill the vacancy with his/her own people. In this scenario, we are assured that the election could easily be rigged. The only solution I can think of is automated elections. But that is a long time coming.