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Senator urges protection for teachers serving as BSKE poll watchers

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the country’s poll body and law enforcement agencies to protect teachers serving as election personnel for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on October 30.

In a statement, the Senate basic education panel chairperson stressed that teachers serving on poll duty will need "full protection" as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) holds the BSKE, which has traditionally triggered incidents of politically motivated violence involving local aspirants.

On October 20, the Comelec said it identified 361 areas or barangays as election hotspots or under the red category, which means there are suspected election-related incidents in these areas.

"Our teachers serve as frontliners in our elections, and alongside their duties is facing various risks. Part of ensuring order in the upcoming barangay and SK elections is ensuring that every teacher and poll watcher are protected from any threats of danger," Gatchalian said in Filipino.

The Comelec has also identified 1,271 areas under the orange category — or areas where there are serious threats from armed groups — and 1,199 areas under the yellow category — or areas where there is intense political rivalry that could include the deployment of armed groups.

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday said that more than 494,000 teachers have signed up for poll duty on October 30.

DepEd earlier conducted a nationwide orientation and training for members of its task force for the 2023 BSKE to inform of the the procedure for conducting the elections.

The said training covered information on mall voting, early voting for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, election procedures before, during, and after, and other election concerns.

Additionally, DepEd has also reminded its officials and personnel not to intervene directly or indirectly in any election campaign or engage in any partisan political activity except to vote.

DepEd earlier signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Comelec and the Public Attorney’s Office to protect teachers from numerous election offenses and/or administrative complaints.

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