Any gov’t  pay increase should be welcomed

Published October 11, 2019, 12:36 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

E CARTOON OCT 11, 2019When 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.