By Chito Chavez
Burdened by financial distress, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) trooped to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Friday asking the agency to present a concrete plan that will fulfill President Duterte’s promise of salary increase to the teachers.
“January’s over and we’re yet to hear back from the President. And as far as we know, no talks with any other teachers’ organization have taken place. Nonetheless, we expect some progress on his promise, which should start with a concrete plan from the budget department” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez.
At the height of the controversial profiling exposé in January, Duterte once again vowed to grant teachers their long-time call for salary increase.
The President publicly announced his willingness to hold a dialogue before January ends with teachers’ representatives and DepEd Sec. Briones to ‘strike a deal’ with the teachers.
ACT wrote to President Duterte on January 23, urging the President to ‘issue the needed directives’ for the immediate implementation of the promised pay hike.
The group also welcomed the President’s invitation to hold a dialogue with teachers’ representatives.
“As the Budget Chief, Sec. Diokno is responsible for concretizing Duterte’s promise to teachers. Our question now is, where is the proposal?” asked Martinez.
Martinez explained that teachers have been suffering under the ‘dire economic conditions in the country, as well as the poor state of the education system in general.’
With the prospect of a reenacted budget, the group asserts that the fulfillment of the pay hike promise becomes even more pressing as other teachers’ benefits, which have gained traction in the lower house and senate version of the 2019 budget, may be completely discarded.
ACT also expressed concern over the administration’s sudden silence about the pay hike promise.
“We were worried that this might have been a ruthless attempt to pacify teachers’ growing distress as a result of the profiling by using their legitimate and urgent demand for economic relief. The government must, once and for all, ease teachers’ worry and make good on their word,” said Martinez.
Towards the end of the protest, teachers executed a die-in protest, forming the characters ‘P30K!’ to illustrate their call for substantial salary increase for Teachers I.
The group also forwarded their call for P31,000 basic pay for Instructors I and P16,000 for salary grade 1 employees.