Teachers, who serve as electoral board members during elections, undergo training on vote counting machine operations in this March 11, 2022 photo. — PHILIPPINE STAR/RUSSELL PALMA

A SENATOR has refiled a bill that seeks to lower the retirement age of public school teachers and other Department of Education (DepEd) regular employees to 60 from 65. 

If enacted into law, this proposed legislation will benefit hundreds and thousands of retirable DepEd personnel, both teaching and non-teaching, who would want to spend the prime of their lives doing other occupations other than their usual functions in the government,Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, said in a statement on Sunday.  

Senate Bill 58, or the New DepEd Retirement Age Act, will also provide more opportunities for younger teachers and non-teaching personnel to land jobs at DepEd. 

Under the proposed measure, DepEd employees with less than 15 years of service upon turning 60 years old will be allowed to continue working in the agency until they reach 65.    

The present system at the DepEd needs skills updating and professional advancement of their personnel in order that services rendered at the department will be restructured and modernized yet perpetual,Mr. Escudero said. 

“It is better that we give government employees a longer period of time to spend with their families,he said. There is more to life than work.”  

Meanwhile, House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France L. Castro criticized President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for vetoing the proposed law granting tax exemption on the honoraria, allowances and other financial benefits given to election workers. 

“The veto of this measure is a slap in the face of every teacher across the country who served the past elections dutifully despite long hours and higher risks of getting COVID-19,” Ms. Castro said in a statement on Sunday. 

“With the additional risks and longer hours of poll service that they had to endure, removing the 20% tax on their honoraria and allowances is only just.”

She said imposing taxes on the honoraria and allowances of election volunteers goes against the intent of Republic Act 10756, or the Election Service reform Act, to compensate the hardships of persons rendering election service.  

They must therefore enjoy the compensation in full and not bear additional burdens,” Ms. Castro said.

Ms. Castro said their party-list will continue to fight for just compensation of election service workers by calling for an override of the veto. 

“We are studying all options to counter this highly unjust move of the President. We urge all teachers and election service volunteers to reach out to their district representatives and senators so that both Houses of Congress can override this unfair veto,” she said. 

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, a mass organization of teachers and other education workers, also denounced the veto, calling it a callous and shamelessmove by the President.

“We shouldn’t worry about the P1.5 billion tax that will be returned to around 700,000 who worked during the election because it is a thanks for their service and added to the funds for their families during this crisis,” ACT Philippines Chairperson Vladimer Quetua said in a separate statement. 

“The bigger loss for the country is the P203-billion estate tax that the Marcos family still hasn’t paid.” Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Matthew Carl L. Montecillo