LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) –- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the payment of cash compensation to the family of a policeman who died in Masbate while performing election duties in the May 2013 polls.
Comelec Bicol Regional Director Romeo Fortes on Wednesday said Sixto Brillantes, the poll body chair, had already approved the payment based on his recommendation for compensation to the heirs of the late PO2 Jesus Apostol who died while providing security to the transport of election paraphernalia to San Pascual, Masbate.
Apostol, who accidentally fell into the sea while on board a motorized banca transporting the election materials a week before the elections, was the team leader of the joint elements of the Regional Public Safety Battalion and the San Pascual Municipal Police Office. He died of drowning.
Fortes clarified that the compensation for Apostol’s family had to be approved by Brillantes as under Comelec Resolution No. 9640 as only teachers who die or are injured while performing election duties are covered by life insurance and other financial compensations.
"Elections in every part of the country would have not been successful and peaceful if not for the vigor of our men in uniform. It is only just proper that they be given the same treatment accorded to the teachers," he explained.
The Comelec regional head said he officially recommended that the same compensation extended to the teachers serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) be granted to the heirs of Apostol, considering that his death happened while he was performing election duties.
"Had it not to the gallantry of policemen like Apostol, the security of BEIs and election paraphernalia including Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines would have been compromised,” Fortes said.
Compensating the family of Apostol and any other policemen or military personnel who encounter tragedy resulting in death or serious injury while serving election duties is just fair and necessary to show that the Comelec is protecting them too, he said.
“We do not want to find our men in uniform exhibiting no zeal and vigor in securing our next elections for failure of the Comelec to protect them too,” Fortes explained.
All personnel of Comelec-deputized agencies must be given the same benefits in case of death or accident, he added.
He cited the incident in Masbate during last Monday’s barangay elections where two election officers and two policemen were injured when ambushed by suspected communist rebels in Palanas town.
Wounded in the incident were Municipal Election Officer Merlinda Alvarez, her assistant Joey Villareal, PO1 Benito Lim Bailon and PO1 Wilbert Pultino.
They were airlifted from Masbate to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital here where they are now recuperating from bullet injuries sustained.
Fortes said he would also recommend to the commission the compensation for these poll and police personnel. (PNA) FFC/FGS/DOC/CBD