Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima threw her support behind a Senate proposal reorganizing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) by making the salary of its 5,000 employees nationwide at par with those who work in other government agencies.
In her Dispatch from Crame No. 425, De Lima said the proposed substantial and just salary increases of Comelec employees can help prevent demoralization among them as they handle myriad challenges in ensuring honest, orderly, and peaceful polls.
“Elections play a critical role in democracies. It is the most basic form of participatory governance and a key element in our people’s civil and political rights,” she said.
“But how do we protect the sanctity of the ballot when those tasked to protect our votes are demoralized because they are underpaid compared to their counterparts in other government agencies and Constitutional Commissions,” she added.
The Commission on Elections Employees Union has been calling for the reorganization of the poll body’s offices and employees’ salary increase through the swift passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2082 or “An Act Reorganizing the Comelec Offices.”
Under SB No. 2082, all of the remaining rank and file plantilla positions in the Comelec’s main and field offices shall be reclassified and upgraded accordingly.
Once passed into law, SB No. 2082, which is authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, is expected to benefit some 5,000 employees of the Comelec nationwide.
Note that a counterpart measure has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Gary Alejano and Feliciano Belmonte Jr., among others.
As a former election lawyer and a daughter of a former Comelec Commissioner, De Lima said she understands the tedious tasks of conducting elections nationwide which prompted her to file a measure aimed at strengthening the poll body.
Last September, she filed SB No. 2025 which aims to strengthen the country’s poll body by increasing its personnel and allowing the creation of field offices at the regional, provincial and municipal levels. The bill also pegged the election assistants to voters ratio at one for every 20,000.
The Senator from Bicol said she remains hopeful that the passage of SB 2082 will revitalize the country’s electoral workforce and further motivate them to fulfill their vital mandate of ensuring clean and truthful elections in the country.
“Huwag po nating kakalimutan na ang mga tauhan ng Comelec ay mga manggagawa ring may taglay na mga karapatan. Unang-una na rito ang karapatan sa sapat at makatarungang pasahod,” she said.
“Umaasa ako na itong SB 2082 ay maisasabatas na sa lalong madaling panahon,” she added.