By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The long-sought increase in the salaries of public school teachers might finally be realized as the Senate vowed to prioritize bills on the matter in the 18th Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the proposed hike in teachers’ pay will be considered a priority in the Upper Chamber when it opens on July 22.
“Matagal na naming pinaglalaban ‘yong pagtaas ng sweldo ng ating mga teachers sa public sector (We have long been pushing for the increase in the salaries of teachers in the public sector). It’s about time. Itinaas na po namin ang sweldo ng kapulisan, ng AFP, ng mga sundalo natin (We already raised the salaries of our policemen, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, our soldiers). It’s about time that we also increase the pay for our teachers in public schools,” Zubiri said.
“We’ll try to pass this as soon as possible. As your Majority Floor Leader, I guarantee that we will take it up as a priority measure in the first months of this Congress,” he said.
At least five bills seeking to raise the wages and allowances of public school teachers have so far been filed in the Senate since July 1, Monday.
Zubiri, with his Senate Bill No. 104, proposed an additional P10,000 per month in the basic salary of basic education teachers, to be paid in three tranches. Senator Francis Pangilinan also filed a similar bill.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, for his part, pushed for an increase of more than P17,000 to bring up the basic salary of public school teachers from Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 19.
Sen. Nancy Binay, meanwhile, wanted to set an increased minimum wage of P28,000 for teachers, and P16,000 for non-teaching personnel.
In separate bills, she also sought to exempt public school teachers who are serving as members of the electoral board during elections from income tax, as an additional “educational assistance” to teachers.
Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. proposed a P5,000 teaching supplies allowance per teacher per school year.
Zubiri said the delay in the teachers’ pay hike was due to concerns in the House of Representatives.
“I was majority leader for two terms. ‘Yong problema nag-eemanate sa House of Representatives. Of course it’s a measure that needs funding. [A] measure that is a big expense to government, so nagkakaroon minsan ng problema and di minsan napapasa yung counterpart measures because of that,” Zubiri added.
But as more senators commit to supporting the wage increase, he said he expects its early approval in the 18th Congress.
The Palace earlier assured public school teachers that the Duterte administration will not default on its promise to increase teachers’ salaries.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo had said the government needs P150 billion to grant a P10,000-pay increase for teachers.