“After class, we are bringing home our students’ academic outputs for us to evaluate and assess. We are also doing class preparations at home. It is ironic that we have no time to teach our own children.” – France Castro, Alliance of Concerned Teachers
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Denied of their rightful wages and benefits, public school teachers are now restless and frustrated. Benjie Valbuena, national chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, said they have been neglected under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
“In four years of Aquino’s presidency, teachers did not receive any salary increase. Our benefits are being taken away if not reduced,” Valbuena said in a press conference held Tuesday, July 22.
Valbuena also decried the implementation by the Department of Education (DepEd) of the Results-based Performance Management System (RPMS), where teachers would be individually evaluated based on the DepEd’s criteria. “If teachers fail the evaluation for two consecutive years, they can be terminated.”
Taking away funds for DAP
According to Valbuena, funds allotted for hiring substitute teachers were taken away as part of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
April Val Montes, secretary general of ACT Teachers’ Partylist, said there is an allocated fund for the hiring of substitute teachers every year. But because the funds were taken away for DAP, public schools can no longer hire substitute teachers when a temporary shortage arises, such as when a teacher is on sick or maternity/paternity leave. Instead, the teaching load is given as additional work for other teachers without additional pay.
“The system is like this: when a teacher is on leave, his or her class will be distributed to other classes. We see that as a problem because what if that class already has a big number of students? The students will have to be squeezed into what will be an even bigger class,” said Montes.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Joselyn Martinez, secretary of ACT-NCR Union, said an official from DepEd told them that P11 billion ($253 million) allocated for DepEd was removed and transferred to DAP for fiscal year 2012-2013.
“It was like stealing the children’s future. That money was allocated for students, for their chairs and other facilities, for the substitute teachers, but the government took it away,” she told Bulatlat.com in an interview.
Teachers were supposed to receive their 2013 Performance-based Bonus (PBB) last March. But Valbuena said they still have not yet received any bonus because of the RPMS, which the government set as another prerequisite.
The RPMS policy is pursuant to Administrative Order (AO) No. 25 entitled “Creating an Inter-Agency Task Force on the Harmonization of the National Government Performance, Monitoring , Information and Reporting Systems” issued by the President on Dec. 21, 2011.
DepEd Order No. 33 provides that under AO 25, the RPMS is to be implemented in all government agencies within the Executive Branch using a common set of performance scorecard.
To be eligible for PBB, the performance of each agency shall be measured using indicators based on the pillars of the RPMS.
Martinez said under the RPMS, teachers are required to reach their target output to have a 130 percent or Very Satisfactory rating.
“We call it quota-based. Teachers must reach the criteria set by the DepEd. For example, in the test results of students, if you reached 80 percent, you will only get 100 percent or Satisfactory rating. If you reached the target of 90 percent or higher you will get a very satisfactory rating. The teachers should also target more than four parent-teacher’s meetings to get the 130 percent or very satisfactory rating. So the teachers are forced to do more than what they can do,” Martinez explained.
“That is the reason why there is still no PBB up to now because we have to accomplish this RPMS first. And that means another year without bonus,” said Martinez.
“The RPMS is designed to squeeze us beyond our limits by obliging us to have an output of 130 percent. Where in the world can you see a system wherein an employee is asked to have an output that is beyond 100 percent? This is something very inhumane and is in violation of our right to be treated rightfully. As a matter of fact, the present system already requires too much from us,” said France Castro, ACT secretary general.
Castro lamented that teachers have been doing their work even beyond working hours. “After class, we are bringing home our students’ academic outputs for us to evaluate and assess. We are also doing class preparations at home. It is ironic that we have no time to teach our own children because we bring home a lot of work,” said Castro.
The teachers also slammed the additional work load they had to do for the Learners Information System (LIS), a data base where the education profile of students can be accessed in the DepEd website.
“Each teacher with an advisory class has to encode their student’s information and upload it in the DepEd Central’s website. But the uploading takes almost a century because all other information from different parts of the country is also being uploaded in the website,” said a stressed Valbuena. He added that teachers are forced to upload files in the wee hours of the night, which is way beyond their working hours.
Montes said that they have nothing against the data base, but it adds on more work load to overstrained teachers. “This is supposed to be clerical work, it would be ideal if the DepEd hires an employee dedicated to this job only. But because of the rationalization plan where non-teaching personnel were laid-off from work, the teachers are left with more work to do.”
The teachers have not only been suffering from low wages, said Valbuena. Their legally-mandated benefits are also being reduced, all because of DAP. “They are saying that the money in DAP is from savings? This is not true. The truth is that they reduced our benefits and put it to DAP.
He said their Performance Enhancement Incentive worth of P10,000 ($230.84) was reduced to P5,000 ($115.42). Their annual Productivity Incentive Bonus (PIB) worth P2,000 ($46.17) would be removed.
“These bonuses are a big help for teachers. This is one way to augment our salary. And then the government under Aquino’s administration will just take it away,” said Montes.
He also said that because of DAP, the Commission on Audit has been questioning the legalities of the incentive that teachers have been receiving.
Valbuena said bonuses and incentives from local governments are also affected by the DAP controversy. He cited that the incentives for Manila teachers and non-teaching personnel have been abolished.
Louie Zabala, president of the Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA), said teachers used to receive P2,500 ($57.14) in incentives. Of this, P2,000 ($45.71) come from the Special Education Fund (SEF) and P500 ($11.43) as local financial assistance. In 2012, then Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim abolished the $11.43 local financial assistance because the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the legality of the allowance. The Manila government, according to Zabala, also plans to abolish the $57.14 incentive. Some schools have reported that they have not received their incentives since January.
In Quezon City, more than 2,000 teachers protested the Quezon City Commission on Audit’s issuance of Audit Observation Memorandum against the continued implementation of the rice allowance for Quezon City public school teachers. “Because of their action, Mayor Herbert Bautista gave his commitment that the teachers’ rice allowance will not be abolished.” Montes said.
No salary increase
Valbuena lamented that the salaries of teachers cannot cope with the continuing spike in the prices of basic commodities and utilities. He said they have long been demanding for a salary increase, not only for teachers but also for non-teaching personnel.
But the Aquino government remains deaf to the clamor, not just from teachers, but from other sectors.
Castro said ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio has filed House Bill 254, which will provides for a salary upgrade of teachers, and was signed by 117 co-authors in the lower house. Aside from these, she said, there have been eight other House Bills filed by different legislators all for the salary increase of teachers and academic employees. Four other similar bills were also filed in the Senate.
Valbuena said on July 28, thousands of teachers will gather on the streets to protest. “With these anomalies involving billions of public funds and Aquino’s insensitive and indifferent attitude toward our call for salary increase and additional funding for public education, we are ready to take to the streets on the day of Aquino’s State of the Nation Address.”
“We will not simply sit down and listen to his rhetoric and excuses. We will join the broad masses on the streets and we will continue to fight for our right to a decent and living wage. We will join the call for the immediate prosecution of the people involved and who benefited in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam and the illegal DAP,” he said.