By Fil C. Sionil
After the Lenten break, some students in private schools were back in their classrooms but public school students are already enjoying the summer break.
For the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the summer break is no time to chill. This early and in preparation for the incoming school year (SY), the DBM gave the green light for the creation of 75,242 teaching positions for kindergarten, elementary, junior high school, and senior high school for SY 2018-2019. It is in response to the request made by the Department of Education (DepEd) to “address the inadequate number of teaching personnel in public schools nationwide.”
I salute Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno for the move as it highlights the importance of providing free public education, one of the pillars of the Duterte administration. It also speaks volume on the valuable, unmeasured contributions of teachers in our lives. We look up to them. Their teachings have left a permanent, indelible imprint from our formative years to where we are today.
This reminds me of a saying that goes: “School teachers are given too much credit and too little cash.” While we’re on this topic, I remember the narratives about them selling items to augment their income. Executive Order No. 201 issued by President Aquino III in 2016, gave teachers and civilian government personnel salary increase in tranches. As of the latest reckoning, public school teachers have a monthly salary of R19,000 to R43,000, depending on their level, excluding allowances, performance incentives, midyear and year-end bonuses. They, too, are entitled to paid leave during the summer break.
Despite the graduated increase in the monthly compensation of teachers, some still need additional funds to pursue advance studies, meet household requirements and medical expenses, and for other purposes.Thus, they resort to borrowing. DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones knows this situation by heart. In November last year, she was quoted as saying that “increased income… only increase the capacity to borrow,” a comment she uttered on the planned hike in teachers’ pay, although she did not categoricaly object to it.
Against this backdrop, Prof. Briones, in February, issued Order #5 series of 2018, calling for the implementation/observance of R5,000 net take-home pay of DepEd personnel. The net threshold is “mandatory.” The order, which is in compliance with Section 48 of the 2018 General Appropriations Act, paid authorized deductions” from the take-home pay of a government employee, chargeable against the appropriations for personnel services may be allowed for the payment of an individual employee’s contributions or obligations due to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, PhilHealth, Government Service Insurance System, and, to Pag-IBIG, provident funds, non-stock savings and loan associations.
Amortization of teachers’ financial obligations to private financial entities or private banks is at the bottom of the queuing system of credit and contributions settlement.
From where I stand, I do believe that the order will have long-term adverse effects on teachers and personnel, simply because it will prejudice their existing obligations to private lending institutions. It could hurt their credit standing if there’s failure to meet their outstanding obligations. In the long run, it could even be an added financial burden arising from accrued surcharges and interests for non-payment. On the part of banks, it is a disincentive, as non-payment could increase the ratio of their non-performing loans, thus requiring lenders to set side additional capital due to credit risk factor.
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