By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A teachers group decried anew the “unfair” and “insubstantial” salary adjustment provided by the former administration and reiterated its demand for salary hike for employees in the public sector.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in a statement, maintained that the salary adjustment provided by Executive Order 201, which was issued by then President Benigno Aquino III, was still not enough for teachers and other employees in the government.
Due to the 2019 budget deadlock, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 76 last March 15, which directed the allotment of funds for the salary adjustment of government personnel that was scheduled for implementation this year.
While the group welcomed the coming release of the three months delayed fourth tranche of pay hike, the group maintained that the “salary scheme is skewed significantly in favor of top officials, while ordinary government employees received paltry and negligible increases.”
“For all his big talks against the last administration, President Duterte is actually the biggest beneficiary of Pnoy’s salary adjustment,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez. Duterte, ACT said, is “set to receive a P101,656-increase in his monthly salary this year, which would amount to P399,739. The four tranches of the salary adjustment effectively tripled the President’s salary from 2015–2019.”
Martinez further argued that Duterte “reaped the benefits of the disproportionate salary adjustment, citing that Duterte immediately enjoyed the first tranche upon assuming office in 2016.”
Meanwhile, ACT revealed that public school teachers – who compose more than half of government employees – will “only receive a total of 11.8 percent or a P2,205-increase upon completion of EO 201’s 4 installments of salary adjustment.” ACT explained that this increase “fails to counter the dire effects of inflation.”
“This is what happens when the government uses the private sector as benchmark for their salary scheme,” Martinez said. “The few on top are paid scandalous amounts of money, while the rest of the employees are forced to make do with salaries that barely let them survive another day,” she added.
Meanwhile, Martinez lamented that the Duterte has “benefitted the most in the government’s salary increase scheme” thus, it was “only right” that he finally prioritizes teachers and “grant us our right to a just compensation.”
ACT has been demanding for a P30,000-salary for Teachers 1, P31,000 for Teachers 2, and P16,000 for salary Grade 1 employees in the public sector.
Meanwhile, the teachers’ federation slammed legislative leadership for “failing” in its budget duty.
“The leadership of the 17th Congress of the Philippines proved to be a huge disappointment for most teachers and education workers,” ACT said.
ACT noted that the Senate and the House of Representatives “have jointly failed to uphold the interests of our sector and the majority of the Filipino people repeatedly, but notably more so in recent months.” Given this, the group – representing part of the country’s education sector – takes the “opportunity offered by the coming election to advance their call for meaningful change in the legislature for the benefit of teachers and staff, the youth, and the majority of the Filipino people.”
“Teachers perform two essential roles every election season: one as Filipino citizens who are exercising their democratic rights and the other as vanguards of the integrity of elections,” ACT said. “Educators actively forward a progressive agenda with a challenge for candidates to take them on as they seek to represent the interests of the people,” it added.
To protect the welfare of teachers, ACT said that it has outlined an agenda – which will also serve as a guide and basis for teachers’ vote in the coming polls.
ACT said that teachers’ votes should be guided by “SWELDO” or an acronym for S–alary Increase; W – elfare and Benefits; E – ducation and Social Services; L – abor Rights and Lasting Peace; D – emocracy and Pro-people Development; and O – wnership and Sovereignty.
“The second important and crucial task assigned to teachers is to be vanguards during elections,” ACT said. “Public school teachers are at the frontlines of the fight against electoral violence and fraud [and] as such, teachers’ become hot targets for harassments, threats, and intimidation, sometimes even by state forces themselves who favor certain candidates,” the group added.
ACT noted that the lives of teachers are “put on the line while in service” thus, it is therefore necessary to “establish mechanisms in order to protect teachers as they perform their duties during election.” While the Elections Service Reform Act (ESRA) has been enacted, the group stressed that this “still demands vigilance due to several issues with its implementation, which is where our election hotline comes in as it seeks to document all forms of rights violation during this time and give immediate assistance to teachers.”
“These roles ultimately serve one major objective—the advancement of teachers’ and the Filipino people’s fight for meaningful change,” ACT ended.