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Davao City, Philippines

DepEd denies banning ACT from poll duties

March 13, 2019 - Wednesday 3:03 PM by Ayan Mellejor

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DAVAO CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd)-11 dismissed as mere speculation the accusation of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) that local education officials are banning its members from the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) for the upcoming May election.

“We don’t have an issue with them when it comes to working inside the classroom. We respect their freedom of expression,” said Jenielito Atillo, the spokesperson of the DepEd-11, over accusations made by ACT against local education officials.

Atillo said ACT and DepEd officials maintain a good relationship but added the former’s allegation that its members are being banned from any activity in the electoral process is unfounded.

“I can categorically say that DepEd did not issue declaring them as ineligible to the BEI. Their accusation is based on allegation and has no solid evidence,” Atillo said during the AFP-PNP press briefing on Wednesday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

Atillo said he does not know where ACT got its information.

“It is not within our province to declare them as ineligible,” he said, adding it is the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that constitutes and appoints the electoral boards.

Atillo said DepEd merely records the names of those willing to participate or serve in the election.

In a statement released by Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, DepEd said ACT’s accusation are “malicious.”

“Their allegations are not validated. It is based on reported and purported acts,” DepEd said.

“Reading closely ACT’s statement, we see its internal inconsistencies, and the resulting disinformation and malicious imputation,” the statement added.

DepEd said ACT should come forward with specific and validated incidents when DepEd local officials supposedly prohibited its members who are teachers from doing election service.

At the same time, DepEd also asked ACT to clarify whether or not its members are members of the ACT Teachers Party-list because they appear to be intimately connected.

DepEd said current ACT Teachers Party-list second nominee Benjamin Valbuena used to serve as National Chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

“Such distinction is relevant in the matter of membership in the electoral boards. If teachers are members of the ACT Teachers Party-list, then the disqualification under Article IX-C Section 8 of the Constitution may apply,” DepEd pointed out.

The provision states that political parties, organizations, or coalitions registered under the Party-list system shall not be represented in the voter’s registration boards, boards of election inspectors, boards of canvassers, or other similar bodies.

However, they shall be entitled to appoint poll watchers in accordance with the law.