DepEd cites support mechanisms for personnel amid COVID-19 crisis

Published August 8, 2020, 9:02 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Saturday assured that it continues to provide support mechanisms for both teaching and non-teaching personnel amid the ongoing public health crisis. 

In a compendium of DepEd support mechanisms for employees pursuant to the “Bayanihan Act,” the agency enumerated its efforts to assist its personnel who are affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Based on the provisions of the law, DepEd noted the implementation of a 30-day grace period on loan payments and directed all lenders to grant another 30-day extension for the payment of all loans falling due with the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period without additional fees on the borrowers. 

DepEd also cited the issuance of guidelines for alternative work arrangements for its personnel which includes work-from-home arrangement, skeleton workforce, four-day or compressed workweek and staggered working hours.

In terms of monetary support mechanisms, DepEd noted the payment of hazard pay to qualified DepEd employees in an amount not exceeding P500 per day for those who were asked to physically report for work during ECQ.

Other interventions, DepEd said, include the advance processing of salaries of regular/plantilla staff and the use of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and local funds for preparation and as response to the threats of COVID-19. 

DepEd also implemented the advance processing of salaries, provision for adjusted loans, and extension of loan payments and corresponding loan refunds due in April and May. 

Moreover, DepEd said that it has focused on expeditious fund release of personnel benefits and incentives including the clothing allowance, performance-based bonus (PBB) for the teaching position and midyear bonus.

DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla also confirmed that a total of P3.06 billion worth of cash allowance, formerly called “chalk allowance” has already been 100 percent paid. As of August 8, data from DepEd showed that all Regional Offices (ROs) with 874,676 total personnel “have confirmed to be fully paid.” Eligible public school teachers are given P3,500 cash allowance each.

To ensure their safety, DepEd also reminded its personnel to refrain from using their ATM payroll cards as collateral for loans or engaging in the ATM “sangla” scheme which is prohibited by DepEd under its automatic payroll deduction system. 

DepEd said that there are other benefits and incentives for its personnel this year.

Meamwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines criticized the DepEd for publicizing its supposed “support mechanisms” for teaching and non-teaching staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACT, in a statement issued on August 8, slammed DepEd on its claimed support for personnel, noting that those it listed were mostly “hard-won and hard-earned” benefits and entitlements of personnel which were already apportioned funds even before the health crisis struck.

ACT Secretary General Basilio alleged that DepEd continues to “neglect” its constituents by pushing for an “unsafe and unprepared” school opening on August 24. 

“Simply put, the overall unpreparedness of the agency to safely and optimally resume formal classes in two weeks prove how big of a failure DepEd was in supporting its own machinery in the implementation of its plans,” Basilio said.