By Merlina Hernando-Malipot, Vanne Elaine Terrazola, and Ben Rosario
The number of unpaid newly hired teachers has increased as a result of the stalemate between the Senate and the House of Representatives over the 2019 national budget, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said Thursday.
ACT – a national federation of unions and organizations of teachers, educational support staff, and advocates – claimed that the delayed passage of the 2019 national budget has resulted in the non-payment of the two-month salaries of public school teachers hired after May, 2018 due to “insufficiency of funds from the re-enacted 2018 budget.”
Citing the reports it gathered from the field, ACT said that the number of reported cases of newly-hired teachers that have not received compensation has doubled from 74 to 134. The group added that this report only comes from Central Visayas, Caraga, Central Luzon, and Davao.
With this development, ACT slammed senators and congressmen for failing to get their acts together.
Despite the intervention of President Duterte, who called leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives to a meeting Tuesday night, the budget stalemate continues.
Sotto warns House
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Thursday warned the House of Representatives that he will not sign a manipulated 2019 national budget.
He issued the warning in reaction to the House’s firm stance and fresh allegations against the Senate regarding the post-ratification “itemizations” in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
“If they will not change then we will just see them next Congress,” Sotto said in a text message to reporters on Wednesday.
In an interview with CNN Philippines aired Thursday, Sotto said he was “surprised” to learn from House leaders that they are standing by their realignments and they refused to heed the proposal raised by Senator Panfilo Lacson to recall the enrolled copy of the spending bill, revert to the version ratified by both Congress chambers, and let President Duterte veto the supposed lump sum appropriations in the GAB.
House leader blames Lacson
But House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro chided Lacson for holding hostage the passage of the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 while pursuing a personal animosity toward Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
It was recalled that Lacson has blamed Arroyo for the issuance by a Manila court judge of a warrant for his arrest in connection with a double murder case filed in 2000.
Noting that Lacson has been “overly critical” of Arroyo during her presidency and even after she was elected Speaker, Castro appealed to the senator to set aside his personal ill feeling against the House leader and stop holding hostage President Duterte and the Filipino people by blocking the enrolment of the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the President’s signature.
“I’d like to remind our people that the Senate has so far also failed to act on other priority legislation that forms part of the President’s agenda,” Castro stressed.
Among these are the continuing the process of Charter change toward federalism, passing the second tranche of tax reform or TRAIN 2, the traffic emergency bill, and creating a new Department of Disaster Management, among others.
Notwithstanding the holding of a meeting between Senate and House leaders in Malacañang, Lacson and Sotto remain adamant at allowing the enrolment of the proposed 2019 GAA for Duterte’s signature.
“Let’s heed the President’s call for all of us to do our job and do right by our people,” appealed Castro.
“It seems with their maneuverings they want President to fail,” Castro added.