By FLORO L. MERCENE
Consider the hard work and dedication of teachers to their profession; long hours preparing the lesson plan, standing while teaching in classrooms, checking test papers, preparing grades and sometimes, part-time adviser to children’s school and family problems.
The occasional Comelec election duty exposes them to physical violence, threats, intimidation and, sometimes as props in the mayor’s political and social events.
For these the teacher receives a monthly salary of some P20,000, barely enough to survive the runaway inflation, hovering at 6.5 percent.
Many public school teachers have to make ends meet with a monthly P10,000 to take care of food, rent, medical expenses, chalk, ballpen and other supplies and for the educational and transport needs of their children.
Some teachers have to take out loans in desperation.
Many Teachers and citizens have been reeling under the burden of personal debts. Private lending institutions (PLIs), mutual funds and GFIs offer low-interest loans repaid thru salary deductions.
Two regulations — Section 48 of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2018 and DepEd Order No. 5 which implements the former, have worked against the financial interest of public school teachers.
The law and the department order set up a hierarchy of preference in the Automatic Payroll Deduction System (APDS) as individual payment or employee’s obligations.
The order of preference, from top to bottom, are: BIR, Philhealth, GSIS and Home Development Mortgage Fund, non-stock savings and loan associations and mutual benefit associations, provident funds, GFIs, insurance companies and thrift banks and rural banks. GAA 2018 provides that in no case shall the deductions reduce the employee’s take home pay lower than P5,000.
This order of preference does away with the First In, First Served System, which in the past ensured that older obligations were satisfied ASAP.
New loans from lenders higher up in the rung of preference are paid first before old loans from thrift and rural banks. This interference increases the risk of default and restricts the amount of financial credit available to teachers.
DepEd should perhaps review this order of preference policy. Strike a balance between the teachers’ need for financial assistance and the small lenders’ assurance of payments.