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Poll teachers to receive ‘tax-free’ honorarium

Public school teachers who will serve as members of the Electoral Board are assured of getting their honorarium on time and tax-free, the Commission on Elections assured Thursday.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that teachers will receive their honararia tax-free if they are earning P250,000 or less a year.

“No tax would be withheld from the teachers’ honoraria if they would file a sworn declaration on having an annual income of within the threshold,” Jimenez said in a statement.

Jimenez said the honorarium will be paid in cash and no longer through cash cards.

Comelec Project Management Office Deputy Project Director Teopisto Elnas said their Finance Department already released the corresponding amount for each city and municipality to their Election Officers.

Based on the Election Service Reform Act, the corresponding honoraria for poll workers are: Chairperson of the Electoral Boards—P6,000; Members of Electoral Boards—P5,000; Department of Education Supervisor Official (DESO)—P4,000; and Support Staff—P2,000.

More than 200,000 teachers will be part of the electoral board for the election on Monday, May 13.

Meanwhile, reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara said the government needs to prioritize their welfare and interests.

He said the government should set a higher minimum pay for teachers if it wants to recruit and retain highly effective educators who will prepare Filipino students for the challenges of the future.

“If we value education and we intend to create a more educated generation of Filipinos, then we need to pay teachers a professional, livable and respectable salary,” said the lawmaker from Aurora, who is running under the platform “Alagang Angara.”

He noted that attracting and retaining excellent educators is one of the most important drivers of a well-functioning public education system—a system that must prepare diverse students with complex needs to participate in today’s knowledge-driven economy.

“Teachers are the foundation for our future,” Angara pointed out. “They guarantee a society of continued innovation by educating the children who will lead the nation.”

However, the lawmaker said public school teachers remain among the most underpaid workers, given their workload and role in the society.

To illustrate this, Angara, who once taught in a law school, said that a one-hour class requires three hours of preparation. On top of this, teachers also spend a lot of time learning new content standards, monitoring the progress of their students and planning interventions if necessary.

“Often teachers have to buy their own school supplies and learning materials,” he added.

At present, entry-level public school teachers (Teacher 1), which is equivalent to Salary Grade 11 under Tranche 4 of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), earn a monthly salary of P20,754.

They are, however, exempt from paying personal income tax, in accordance with the provision of a legislation that Angara pushed to increase the take-home pay of workers earning less than P250,000 per year.

Salary Grade 11, according to Angara, is not attractive enough to entice qualified and competent educators to teach in public schools.

As early as 2016, Angara has been pushing for the passage of his Senate Bill 135 that seeks to upgrade the minimum pay of teachers to Salary Grade 19, which under the SSL is equivalent to P45,269.

 “Despite the fact that they are heralded as molders of our children’s future and second parents to our kids, public school teachers receive a basic salary that does not equate to their contribution,” Angara said.

The Harvard-educated lawmaker said a higher pay would “greatly help in motivating our teachers to strive for excellence their field and thus, improve the quality of education in the public school system.”

A known advocate of educational reforms, Angara is one of the authors of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which guarantees free tuition and other miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges.

He is also the author of the Universal Kindergarten Education Act of 2012, when he was a member of House of Representatives, representing the lone district of Aurora province.

Angara inherited his advocacy on education from his father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara, who authored the Free High School Act that ensured secondary education even for the poorest.

Like his father, the senator strongly believes that education is the great socioeconomic equalizer and a stepping stone to a better life.

Topics: Electoral Board , Commission on Elections , James Jimenez , Teopisto Elnas , Department of Finance
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