Duterte assures pay hike for teachers

Published October 6, 2019, 8:00 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has assured that the salaries of public school teachers will be increased this year.

But he made it clear that it won’t be doubled.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers.his speech upon his arrival in Davao City on Sunday after a five-day visit in Russia. (Keith Bacongco)
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers.his speech upon his arrival in Davao City on Sunday after a five-day visit in Russia. (Keith Bacongco)

The President announced the pay hike assurance Sunday after he returned home from his visit to Russia.

“It’s coming ang increases nila but hindi double. But mas marami ang teachers, my God. Pero nandiyan po, dadating ‘yan this year [The increases are coming but it won’t be doubled. There are more teachers, my God. But it is there, it is coming this year],” he said during a press conference at the Davao airport.

“The last time they were discussing was about 35 but it could be more. I do not know,” he added.

Duterte, however, could not provide the exact date of the planned salary hike for public school teachers, saying the government is a “such a very complex animal.”

“If I give you the timeline tapos I could not make it on the deadline, I have to explain more than what is expected of government. Mas mabuti’t na lang ‘yan kung nandiyan na, sinasabi ko nandiyan na ‘yan [It’s better to announce it when it’s ready],” he said.

“Basta sinabi ko may increase din sila [I’m telling you that they will have an increase]. That I am very sure of,” he added.

The President had earlier assured the public school teachers that they would be next to receive a pay hike after the government adjusted the compensation of soldiers and policemen. He admitted that it was “easier” to double the salaries of soldiers and cops because they were fewer compared to public school teachers.

A proposed salary hike for public school teachers and other government workers is among the priority measures endorsed by President Duterte during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July. “I believe it is time to pass the Salary Standardization Law. Ngayon na. To the teachers, who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, kasama na po kayo dito,” he said in his annual address before a joint session of Congress.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo had earlier said government would have to spend P150 billion if it would grant the proposed P10,000 pay increase for public school teachers. Economic managers, he said, are still looking for the possible sources of funding for the salary adjustment for teachers.

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Teachers’ group skeptic

Despite Duterte’s assurance, various teachers’ groups on Monday remain skeptical, noting that only a “concrete, clear-cut, and tangible measure with a definite timeline” for pay hike would make them believe his words.

The President’s latest pay hike pronouncement drew mixed reactions and apprehensions from various teachers’ groups. The President assured that teachers will get their salary hike which, he said, may be “increased by about 35 percent.” However, he did not give an exact timeline about the effect of the said adjustment.

READ MORE: Teachers’ groups doubt Duterte’s latest pay hike promise

For the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), the President’s statement “should be clarified” because “seemingly, there is no indication that both Houses of Congress is willing to do such.”

TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said teachers were very happy with the President’s latest pronouncement on salary increase. However, many of them could not help but doubt Duterte’s words. “Masayang-masaya po ang mga guro sa sinabi ng Pangulo, pero baka umasa na naman kami nang husto at bandang huli ay mabigo (The teachers are very pleased with what the President has said, but we may hope again and eventually fail),” he explained.

The group also reminded the President of his campaign promise that a P10,000 across-the-board salary increase will be given. “This is more equitable and realistic than any other proposals,” Basas said. “Also, we anticipate a meeting with him soon, as he mentioned in several occasions that he is willing to sit in a dialogue with teachers’ groups,” he added.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is likewise skeptical over the President’s latest pronouncement on salary increase.

For the group, the President’s pronouncement is “unsatisfactory” and will “not appease the teachers’ growing restlessness” amid the lack of a substantial pay hike. In the previous weeks, members of the group have been staging a series of human “30K” formations in various schools with the largest one yet on their World Teachers’ Day (WTD) protest to demonstrate their call for a Php30,000 entry-level pay for teachers.

“Aside from clarity, seeing as how he had media reports confused with the vague mention of a ‘35 or more’ figure for the pay hike, what we need from the President is not another empty promise but a concrete, clear-cut, and tangible measure with a definite timeline for a substantial increase for teachers and all other civilian employees,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez.

ACT cited that currently, the “only evidence of a coming pay hike” is the house-approved 2020 budget which allotted P31 billion for the salary increase of over 1.5 million government employees, amounting to a raise of no more than P2,000 per month should the budget be equally distributed. “This amount falls closer to some media reports of the announcement that a 35 percent increase is coming for teachers,” Martinez said.

For ACT, about “35 percent” pay hike is “not enough to allow us a decent living and dignify our profession.” Martinez added that this “certainly will not placate teachers who have been reasonably restless in the demand for the Duterte administration to grant us a 30K basic pay.”

Martinez added that teachers “deserve no less from this government and we are committed to fighting for what is due us.” (With a report from Merlina H. Malipot)

READ MORE: Duterte assures teachers of pay hike; proposed increase under government study