The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines reiterate its call to the Senate to tackle and enact the bills seeking to exempt from tax the meagre honoraria of poll workers before the 18th Congress closes its sessions on February 4.
Three bills filed separately by Senators Binay, Gatchalian, and De Lima are still pending in the Senate, while the Lower House already approved the measure on the 3rd and final reading in 2021.
ACT stressed that none of the proposals have even been deliberated at the committee level, despite the measures being ‘relatively easy’ to pass. “Congress session will end next week. We urge our Senators to prioritize the measure to tax-exempt poll workers pay. Let our teacher-poll workers receive in full the already low compensation the state grants them despite the enormous duties and responsibilitiesassigned to them every election. There are other more productive sources of tax revenues, let it not be our election frontliners,” pressed ACT spokesperson Raymund Basilio.
According to Basilio, the imposition of 5% tax on election service pay only began in 2018 and has since been the subject of protests among teachers who constitute the majority of poll workers.
The highest honorarium given to a member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) for the 2022 national elections will only come to a mere Php9,000—5% of which or Php450 will be deducted but the group argues it can best be spent to cover uncompensated service-related expenses. Meanwhile, ACT estimates that the gains from taxing all honoraria and allowances only comes to a ‘negligible Php112.5-million.’
“Considering the importance and precarity of rendering services during any elections—but especially so in the 2022 polls due to the current political climate—the Php112.5 million is just a drop in the bucket that can be foregone to ensure that our poll workers get the maximum amount of compensation. We do believe that our Senators can appreciate that, since they themselves bore witness and benefitted from the services of our teacher-poll workers,” Basilio explained their stance.
ACT will hold an online protest to barrage the Senate to heed their call. Teachers intend to comment on the livestreamed plenary session today to demand #TaxFreePollWorkPay. “Sa puntong ito, Senado na lang ang hinihintay na umaksyon sa aming makatwirang kahilingan. Kayang-kayang at nararapat na ipasa ang batas na ito sa lalong-madaling panahon. Maliit na hakbang lang ang hinihingi mula sa ating mga Senador habang malaki ang nakataya para sa mga gurong magsisilbi sa eleksyon,” Basilio said.