Teachers lament that state security forces get doubled salaries in 2018, but not teachers.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Public school teachers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) reiterated their call for salary increase as they mark World Teachers Day on Oct. 5 at Chino Roces bridge (former Mendiola bridge).
They showed their frustration with President Duterte who, they said, scrapped his campaign promise to raise wages. The group lamented that their salaries remain low, while Duterte has increased the salaries of the police and military.
ACT said the latest salary increase was under then President Benigno Aquino III’s Executive Order 201, which increased teachers’ salary by only P2,000 ($39), and given in tranches. This was measly, compared to their demand for P16,000 ($313) a month for non-teaching personnel and P25,000 ($489) for teachers.
In July 2016, ACT Teachers Party solons filed House Bill 56, proposing to increase public school teachers salary to P25,000 and P27,000 ($528) for teachers in state universities and colleges. But the bill is stuck at the committee level.
Louie Zabala, president of the Manila Public School Teachers Association slammed the government’s inaction to their long time call, calling it “an insult” to teachers.
“There are funds for Oplan Tokhang and counter insurgency program, but not for the salaries of teachers,” he said during the program at Mendiola.
ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio explained that the 2018 proposed budget will not benefit Filipinos. He said the biggest chunk of the budget will only bring in profits for oligarchs involved in the Build, Build, Build projects, which are allotted P1 trillion ($19.5 billion). Most contractors of the infrastructure projects are usually private corporations, he said.
At least P3 billion ($58 million) is allocated to the counterinsurgency program, while and P900 million ($1.7 million) is proposed for the government’s war on drugs.
Meanwhile, the budget for social services such as education, housing and health have decreased, said Tinio. He said at least P30 billion ($586 million) was deducted from the Department of Education to augment funds for the implementation of the free college education law.
“Hindi dapat pagbanggain ang dalawang ito. Budget for war against the people could be realigned to fund these services,” he said.
Around P25 billion ($488 million) was earmarked for the initial implementation of the 100 percent increase in the salaries of the police, military and other uniformed personnel in 2018.
“Now we have to ask: If the salaries of uniformed personnel increase, what about those in the civilian bureaucracy? These include teachers, nurses, and other rank-and-file government employees who are in the frontlines of providing services to the Filipino people,” Tinio said.
Zabala said there has been no change. Their main call is still the same: salary increase for teachers and non-teaching personnel. He lamented that teachers greatly contribute in the society by producing professionals and workers to run the country, but the government is not giving importance to their role.
ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro also said they have yet to see the implementation of the adoption of the International Labor Organization-Unesco Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.
The recommendation was adopted in 1966. It sets recommendation for the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and international standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions.
It also has recommendations for teachers’ participation in educational decisions through consultation and negotiation with educational authorities.
“Despite Duterte’s promises of change and more than a year into his administration, the still-dismal state of the Philippine education system is reflected in the underpaid and overworked conditions of public and private school teachers,” she said.
The Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend) meanwhile, urged fellow teachers and educators to speak and break the culture of silence.
“We enjoin them to organize, collectively study the problems around and prospects for educational change—not only concerning their schools but in connection with the problems of global capitalism. Teachers must join other progressive and patriotic sectors of our society that push for radical change,” the group said in a statement.