“To peaceably assemble for redress of our grievances is well within the rights of teachers, especially on Oct. 5 when the state should demonstrate that teachers should be honored.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – No. The public school teachers are not plotting the destabilization or ouster of the administration of President Duterte on Oct. 5. But they will mobilize their ranks to press for their long time demands.
They dubbed it as “Teachers’ Red October Protest’ where public school teachers under the flag of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT) will hold simultaneous protests nationwide.
“October 5 is our day and we claim it as ‘Teachers’ Red October.’ Filipino teachers are now gravely overworked and grossly underpaid and we hold the Duterte regime accountable for this,” said ACT president Joselyn Martinez in a statement sent to Bulatlat.
Teachers will hold motorcades, candle lighting protest, mass leave and will march to Chino Roces bridge (formerly Mendiola bridge). The same protest action will be held in various protest centers in the country to call on President Duterte to address and solve gut issues not only affecting teachers but the whole Filipino people.
“We call on the Duterte administration to quit its hallucinations of a destabilization plot and act immediately on our demands for salary increase and better working conditions,” she added.
The ACT lamented that the public school teachers’ status has not substantially improved despite the enactment of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers since 1966.
The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers “upholds and protects the economic, professional, and social well-being of teachers for the objective of quality education, and in recognition of the mentors’ contribution and role in nation building.”
Martinez said the teachers’ condition has further deteriorated especially under the Duterte administration. The implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN) has only worsened their plight as the government refuses to heed the teachers’ call for substantial salary increase.
“The idea is even repeatedly countered by the concerned top officials of the administration. What teachers experienced, instead, is the nonstop erosion of the value of salaries due to the unbridled price increases driven by the TRAIN Law and the worsening economic crisis,” said Martinez.
Department of Budget and Management Secretary Jose Diokno has repeatedly rejected the teachers’ call for salary even calling it as ambitious.
Martinez said majority of teachers belong to the poorest 66 percent who earn no more than P21,000 ($387) per month and are the most hit by the current economic crisis.
“Never, in our history, have we been asked to eat ‘bukbok rice’ nor have we seen vegetable prices spiking by three to fivefold, and galunggong being imported,” she added.
This and among other issues such as the excessive workload of teachers and the difficulties brought about by the implementation of the K to 12 program are the calls that ACT will bring to the gates of Malacañang Palace.
On the other hand, they call on the government to not tag their protest as part of the purported Red October plot, which they call as a delusion. The Red October was a plot allegedly by the left, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Liberal Party to overthrow Duterte from the presidency. The groups that the government has been accusing have denied that there is no such thing.