By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A federation of teachers on Wednesday urged Senators to augment the “measly” P31 billion allocation for salary increase of government workers in the 2020 national budget.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines reiterated its demand for salary hike following Senator Ralph Recto’s call to the budget agency to endorse an executive order that will enable the pay hike, instead of waiting for its legislation.
Led by ACT, public school teachers held a protest caravan to Senate to join the “People’s Budget Fight” march as the chamber deliberates on the 2020 national budget.
“The ball is now in the hands of the Senate and the least it can do is to correct the pitiful allocation for our pay hike by no less than doubling it,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez.
Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Sonny Angara, in reaction to Recto’s call, earlier said that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is “willing to endorse an executive order” that will enable a pay hike for civil servants next year.
While teachers understand that legislating salary increase for civil servants would take time, Martinez said that the Senate can “ensure enough funds for a substantial first-tranche pay hike for next year, and then strive to pass the salary increase legislation immediately after.”
“There is no shortage of substantial salary increase bills filed in the Senate,” Martinez lamented. “If our Senators are sincere in improving the lives of our civil servants, they can act on it and not leave the matter on DBM’s hands,” she added.
Meanwhile, ACT expressed apprehension over the proposal for a DBM-endorsed EO for government workers’ salary increase, saying that the DBM “already revealed itself to be stingy on the pay hike matter.”
ACT noted that DBM officials – in a Senate hearing last month – said that it only intends to hike civilian state workers’ salaries by 21% to be divided in three tranches.
“DBM’s proposal would only amount to P1,400 increase in the monthly salaries of teachers next year, it’s a far cry from our demand of raising the base pay of teachers from the current P20,754 to P30,000 monthly, it’s not enough,” Martinez said.
The group expressed hope that the Senate would “be true to its words when it said that they will prioritize human resource development, agriculture, and social services’ in next year’s budget” because such commitment should “translate to substantially higher allocations for salary increase of government employees, subsidy to farmers, and reversal of budget cuts in health and education.”
ACT also called for the re-channeling of the “hefty funds” which the DBM allotted for the Duterte government’s wars and corruption-prone Build, Build, Build program and “which the Lower House hastily approved, to the detriment of the people’s interest.”
The teachers’ federation vowed to “closely monitor” the budget process and continue to “boldly press” for substantial salary increase and higher budget to education and other social services.