Election hotspot San Fernando town braces for shortage of public school teachers to serve in May polls
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The election office of San Fernando in southern Cebu is bracing for possible shortage of public school teachers who will serve as members of the municipality’s electoral boards (EBs) in the elections this May in the wake of the recent ambush involving the town mayor.
San Fernando Election Officer Renanto Angcos confirmed to Cebu Daily News Digital in a phone interview today, February 13, that at least 20 public school teachers have manifested that they do not want to do election-related work in the midterm polls following last January’s ambush of Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya.
The mayor’s husband, Councilor Ricardo “N0noy” Reluya, driver Allan Bayot and the town’s investment officer, Ricky Montenora, were killed in the ambush. The mayor was injured but survived the attack along with two of her staff.
The ambush was the third incident involving local officials just in January, with the separate killings earlier in the month of two of the town’s elected officials. Councilor Reneboy Dacalos, 51, was gunned down in the town’s Barangay South Poblacion on January 10, while Johnny Arriesgado, the barangay captain of Magsico, was shot dead inside his car near the town center on January 16.
Angcos said the teachers began expressing their reluctance to serve in the election just a day after the ambush of the mayor’s vehicle in Barangay Linao, Talisay City last January 22.
“Ni inform na sila nga nabalaka sila sa ilahang security. Tungod sa nahitabo,” said Angcos.
Angcos said they would need 177 public school teachers to serve as members of the EBs in the 21 voting centers in San Fernando but those who have shown interest to serve in the polls have yet to reach the required number. The town has around 40o public school teachers, he said.
Last February 9, Angcos said they initiated a coordination meeting between the school teachers who served notice they did not want to poll duties and the group from the Comelec- Cebu provincial office, local officials of San Fernando and Philippine National Police (PNP).
During the meeting, the teachers were assured of their safety but it did not change their decisions.
“After sa nahitabo gyud, kadtong sunod-sunod (nga pagpatay) pag January, I don’t know unsay nahitabo sa ilaha. Nagpusot-pusot na sila’g anhi diri. That made me nga mao ra’g na-concern ko mao to’ng gi-conduct nako ang coordination meeting but just the same, daghan gihapon kaayo ang nibalibad na nga mo serve,” Angcos said.
He added that he has given all public school teachers in the town until Friday, February 15, to submit a formal letter to manifest their willingness to serve as members of San Fernando’s EBs.
“From there, we will determine as to how many public school teachers are willing to serve this election. If they don’t submit their manifestations by Friday, they will no longer be included in the electoral board,” Angcos said.
The town is already in the list election hotspots in the country.
In a separate interview, Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd)-7 information officer Amaryllis Villamia clarified that public school teachers are no longer required to serve in the election.
“It’s no longer mandated, it’s voluntary,” Villarmia said.
She also appealed to law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of their teachers.
Angcos, meanwhile, has started coordinating with private schools in San Fernando to search for teachers who might be interested in replacing the EB members who backed out. The only criteria, Angcos said, is only their availability and willingness to serve.
Although he received positive response from private schools, Angcos said he would still prefer public school teachers since they are already familiar with the schools where they are assigned and used as voting precincts and with the voters from that area.
“Di na ta mag problema nila for example sa key sa school, sa suga. Kung naa’y deperensiya, naa silay matawag. Mao na ang advantage kung ang atong mga public school teachers gyud ang ma-assign sa ilang lugar,” Angcos added./elb
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