The Department of Public Works and Highways warned local candidates from posting election materials on road-right-of-way signs, especially road messages and street signs that obstruct the view of motorists and official traffic signs.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar issued the warning following reports that many barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan candidates were illegally posting election materials to RROW posts, street and road messages which is strictly prohibited under PD 17 and PD 1096, known as Revised Philippine Highway Act and the National Building Code of the Philippines, respectively.
The warning is also directed to establishment owners and the general public from occupying or using RROW areas as gantry for their advertisements and extension of their offices or houses.
Gantry signs, which are commonly installed along roads to promote businesses or individuals especially during election season, are strictly prohibited as they obstruct or distract the view of motorists and official traffic signs.
“Poorly-installed signs likewise constitute serious hazards and pose imminent danger to the public in the event of strong winds and typhoons,” the Public Works chief said.
Under PD No. 17 and No. 1096, DPWH has the right to impose penalties to violators and file appropriate legal action pursuant to Administrative Order No. 160-A and the Civil Code of the Philippines.
Owners of signages obstructing government RROW are given 15 days to dismantle, otherwise DPWH Regional and District Engineering Office will have it removed, he said.
“Although DPWH field personnel nationwide continuously monitor and remove unnecessary signs within six-meter easement on each direction of our national roads, we still ask the public to be of assistance and provide us with any information of RROW violations so we can immediately act them,” Villar added.
As this developed, lawmakers has urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue to reconsider its decision imposing tax on the honoraria and travel allowances of public school teachers who will serve in the May 14 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Reps. Antonio Tiñio and France Castro, members of the Makabayan Bloc, said the ruling to deduct five percent withholding tax from the election service compensation and travel allowance to be received by the members of the Board of Election Tellers (BET) should be overturned to provide a little relief to the hardworking teachers.
“Teachers deserve to receive the full amount of the honorarium after undertaking their high risk job as poll workers,” said Tiñio. “It is only under the Duterte administration that even poll workers’ honorarium and travel allowance are not safe from taxation.”
Castro pointed out that “travel allowance should not be taxed as it is essentially not an income but actually a form of reimbursement for the expenses incurred by poll workers in the performance of their official duties such as bringing the election paraphernalia to precincts and taking them back to the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices.”
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, backed the appeal to exempt from taxes the honorarium and allowances of teachers.
“I am backing the call of Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones for tax-free allowances and other remunerations for our public school teachers. During election season, no group of people in government sacrifices more than them, they deserve it,” said Nograles.
“The stipend for teachers is not that big to begin with especially when you compare it to the daunting task at hand. Sparing it from tax will be consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pro-people stance, which we saw with the doubling of the base pay of the lowest-ranked military and uniformed personnel (MUP) earlier this year,” Nograles said.
Nograles, a lawyer, said the law provides that the electoral board chairperson will receive a P6,000 honoraria, members will get P5,000 each, DepEd supervisor receives P4,000, a support staff will earn P2,000 each.
At the same time, Nograles said they are all entitled to a P1,000-travel allowance.
Earlier, the BIR said that it would take five percent on the honoraria and transportation allowances of the teachers who will work in the electoral board as withholding tax.
After being rescheduled twice, the barangay and SK elections will finally take place this coming Monday, May 14. There are more than 42,000 barangays or villages in the entire country country.
For his part, Nograles said that he would continue to find ways to improve teachers’ benefits in his capacity as head of the powerful Committee on Appropriations. This includes augmenting the salary of teachers.
“Like the increase in the pay of soldiers and police, the teachers’ pay hike is a promise that the Duterte administration intends to deliver on,” he said, adding that the deliberations for the 2019 national budget will start soon.
Nograles recalled that Congress increased starting this 2018 the monthly allowances of public school teachers from P2,500 to P3,500.