DepEd exec hits Comelec anew over special holiday

Eva Antipuesto, DepEd-Davao City assistant schools superintendent, blamed the extension of the registration on the alleged lack of system in the Commission on Elections.

Citing similar lapses in the May 2007 elections, Antipuesto said the Comelec has to shape up this time over what she called an unsystematic way of dealing with the education department.

She said aside from disrupting classes, local election officers hastily asked them to provide names of teachers to be assigned to satellite registration desks in barangays.  

She said it is high time to task the Comelec to improve its system saying the department is keen on protecting the conditions of teachers doing election duties.

The National Youth Commission, an agency under the Office of the President, informed DepEd on Aug. 1 that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had declared August 3 a special holiday for all high schools and colleges.

The NYC memo said the holiday was declared to "further ensure wider youth participation for the SK elections."

Susana Teresa Estigoy, DepEd OIC regional director, forwarded the memo to all schools division superintendents in the region.

DepEd in Davao City was able to issue a memorandum on Aug. 2 to all the principals of its 267 elementary and 66 secondary schools.

The deadline for the registration for SK elections was on July 22. But the Comelec en banc in a resolution decided to extend it on July 28 and 29 and August 4 and 5.  

No registration was scheduled on August 3, according to the local offices of the Comelec, but it was declared a holiday to give time for the youth to go to their barangays and register.

Antipuesto said they just followed the order because it came from higher officials. 

On Thursday, while she was interviewed, Antipuesto told reporters they were still calling and sending text messages about the memo to schools especially those in remote areas.

DepEd also applied the holiday to teachers.  

The Comelec asked 368 public school teachers to handle the registration in satellite offices in each of the city's 184 barangays. 

Antipuesto said the sudden notice also forced them to postpone several activities scheduled on Friday. 

The declaration of a holiday elicited confusion among the young voters.

Councilor April Marie Dayap, SK Davao City chair, said the information about the holiday reached them only on August 2, prompting them to quickly inform members who were yet to register. 

In an interview, Dayap said it was not clear to her whether the holiday would mean another registration day. (WI Balane/MindaNews)