By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As calls for salary hike welcomed this school year’s opening of classes, Education Secretary Leonor Briones reminded teachers especially those in public schools that teaching – as a profession – was “not all about the money.”
Briones, along with other officials of the Department of Education (DepEd), welcomed the first day of School Year (SY) 2019-2020 in two public schools in the National Capital Region (NCR): Signal Village National High School (SVNHS) in Taguig City and Comembo Elementary School (CoES) in Makati City.
As part of her school visit in SVNHS, DepEd officials led by Briones held a “kumustahan” with some teachers. During the dialogue, she conversed with the teachers and delivered updates on the DepEd’s initiatives to improve their welfare. The teachers, on the other hand, presented some of their concerns including the updates on salary increase, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) loans and other benefits.
Responding to the query on salary increase, Briones reiterated her stand on the issue: salary increase for teachers should be “carefully studied” since it would cost the government P150 billion for a P10,000-pay hike.
As a public finance expert, she explained to teachers that increasing their salaries would also mean that the government would need to hike the pay of other government workers or the entire civil sector.
Briones noted that the department continues to push for initiatives that will improve the welfare of teachers. While recognizing that some teachers have to struggle with their economic conditions, she reminded them not to forget the reason why they chose the teaching profession. She also urged them to “stay true to their commitment to public service” because “you are teachers.”
“Right now, you are ashamed because of your salaries,” Briones told the teachers of SVNHS. “But, you have to be proud that you are teachers” – noting Filipino teachers are well-loved not only here in the Philippines but by other nationalities in other countries as well.
Briones noted that the initial estimate of P150 billion does not include the teachers’ performance bonus. She explained that the salary increase for teachers will be sourced from the taxes because it will be a permanent part of their salaries.
Teachers, Briones explained, benefits from the Salary Standardization Law – which raised the monthly pay of entry-level teachers to P20,754.00. She noted that teachers also get cash allowances and hazard pay – among others.
Meanwhile, Briones urged the teachers to “look at the entire forest of public service” as the calls for salary increase intensify. She also reminded them that “no man is an island” – noting that while teachers “are a very important sector, beloved by all, but at the same time we have to love everybody else.”