MANILA — Public school teachers who will be serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in the May national and local elections will get an additional Php 2,000 in honorarium from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said that the additional stipend was approved by the commission en banc. The honorarium of BEIs will increase to Php 6,500.

“While they are undergoing training, we have approved a small amount to give them so they do not have to spend out of their own pockets,” he said at the press conference for the Memorandum of Agreement between the Comelec, Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Thursday.

Bautista said that teachers would receive the amount as soon as they attend the training, which is set to start on March 1 and will last for a month.

Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10031, the chairperson and members of the BEIs shall receive a per diem at the rate of Php 1,000 a day for three days plus additional Php 500 each for the verification and sealing of the Book of Voters, for the final testing and sealing of the vote counting machines, and for transportation allowance for a total per diem of Php 4,500.

The Comelec will be needing some 300,000 public school teachers to manage the around 95,000 clustered polling precincts nationwide.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, the BEI should be constituted by a chairman and two members, who must be public school teachers.

On the other hand, the Department of Science and Technology is tasked to certify about 100,000 would-be BEI members as being information technology-capable.

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo is confident that many of the public school teachers set for DOST certification will be certified.

“We have been doing this twice already. We have had two very successful processes and we don’t see any major or even minor problem this third time,” said Montejo adding that 90 percent of teachers have been certified in previous elections.

Under Republic Act No. 9369, or the Poll Automation Law, “at least one member of the EIs shall be an information technology-capable person, who is trained or certified by the DOST to use the automated election system”.

Meanwhile, the Comelec is also partnering with another social networking site, Facebook (FB), in connection with its activities for the forthcoming polls, particularly in the presidential and vice presidential debates it will be hosting.

“We are eagerly looking forward to working with Facebook to ensure that the thoughts and opinions of Filipino voters are made an integral part not only of the debates but also for the elections and with FB we can see voters greater participation and meaningful engagement in 2016 election,” said Bautista.

Katie Harbath, Global manager, political and government outreach team of FB said that their partnership with the poll body is focused in three areas.

“The three main areas of what our partnership will look like. 1. We will be helping the Comelec to crowd source questions for the debate that will be presented to candidates, 2. We will also be helping to encourage more voting. We will be running our voter megaphone on election day over every body in the Philippines that is over the age of 18 we will remind them that its election day and and finally we are looking at insights on what the conversations on FB about elections, candidates and issues,” he said.

The Comelec will be hosting three presidential debates, (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao) and one vice presidential debates (Metro Manila) in the succeeding months. Ferdinand G. Patinio/PNA/