When President Duterte arrived at the Davao Airport from his state visit to Moscow, Russia, last Sunday, he once again assured the nation’s teachers they would get their long-promised salary increases this year.
“It is coming — ang increase nila, but hindi doble,” he said. “The last time they were discussing was about 35, but it could be more. I do not know,” he said. “They” must be the members of Congress who are to approve the budget for the salaries of government workers. “About 35” is believed to be percentage increase in the teachers’ salaries.
A year after the President was elected in 2016, he succeeded in getting Congress to double the salaries of men in uniform – 172,000 soldiers and 170,000 policemen –who started getting their higher pay in January, 2018. To double the salaries of the nation’s 600,000 teachers would have required over P300 billion. And so the teachers’ pay increase had to be deferred , along with those of all othe government employees.
But the President has repeatedly assured the teachers that they surely be next to get their pay hikes. On his return from Russia, he made it a point to assure them once again. The funds will have to be in the national budget for 2020 which Congress is now deliberating on.
The nation’s various teachers’ organizations are understandably unsure of what to expect. The Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) welcomed the President’s latest announcement, but “there is no indication” that Congress is going along with the President’s wishes,” it said. ”Baka umasa na naman kami nang husto at bandang huli ay mabigo,” it added.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) noted that the House-approved 2020 budget does have P31 billion for pay increases of over 1.5 million government employees, amounting to a raise of about P2,000 a month – which falls close to the 35 percent figure mentioned by the President. This is “not enough to allow us a decent living and dignify our profession,” ACT – which has asked for a P35,000 basic pay –said.
The government’s workers’ hopes and expectations may have been unduly raised when the men in uniform had their salaries doubled in 2018. The rest of the government work force, including teachers, will have to face the reality that the present state of government revenue cannot allow a similar 100 percent increase for them.
But any increase at this time should be welcomed. As national revenues increase in step with the pace of national economic growth, the members of Congress will see the need for the government to pay its workers – most especially our teachers — better than it does now.