Solon files bill increasing economic relief allowance for teachers by P8,000

Ang Probinsyano party-List Rep. Alfred delos Santos has filed House Bill (HB) No. 6329 proposing an increase in the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) of public school teachers by at least P8,000.

The rookie solon said that even with the pay adjustment of the lowest salary grade teachers (Salary Grade 11 for Teacher 1) to P22,316 after the first tranche of increase under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), the rate still falls below the approximate living wage of P30,270 for a family of five in the Philippines.

“It has become necessary to grant the much-deserved increase in the benefits given to our public school teachers. Hence, it is proposed in the bill that the PERA granted to public school teachers must be increased to at least P8,000, an amount which would, at least, substantially cover the discrepancy,” Delos Santos said.

He said the measure aims to enhance and uplift the living and working conditions of public school teachers as well as secure their right to a living wage.

Delos Santos underscored the need to adjust upward the salaries of public school teachers amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Malaking insentibo rin ito bilang malasakit sa kanila dahil mas dumoble ang kanilang trabaho dahil sa blended education (This is a huge incentive and at the same time shows our concern to them given that their work become harder because of blended education)."

Delos Santos noted that as of April 2020, there were 965,660 regular employees in the Department of Education (DepEd), more than 805,000 of whom were holding teaching positions.

“Kung maiaangat natin ang natatanggap na sahod ng ating mga guro kasabay ng pagtaas ng suweldo ng ibang kawani ng gobyerno at pag-akyat ng mga presyo ng mga bilihin, malaking ayuda na po ito ang mga teachers lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya (If only we could increase our teachers' take home pay alongside that of other government employees and the hike in the prices of goods, then this would be of huge support to them during the pandemic)," he said.

Meanwhile, the six-member Makabayan bloc has filed HB No.7126, which pursues the institutionalization of a Special Hardship Allowance (SHA) for public school teachers.

"HB 7126 is an urgent and timely bill for public school teachers especially now that the (DepEd) continues to push for a formal reopening of the new school year in different modes. Institutionalizing the (SHA) compensates teachers for their hard work and sacrifices especially now amid the pandemic and the blended learning modes...where teachers are tasked to delivery the self-learning modules to the houses of their students," said ACT Teachers part-list Rep. France Castro, one of the authors and a former public school teacher.

She said Section 19 of Republic Act (RA) 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers states that "in areas in which teachers are exposed to hardship such as difficulty in commuting to the place of work or other hazards peculiar to the place of employment, as determined by the Secretary of Education, they shall be compensated special hardship allowances equivalent to at least twenty-five (25) percent of their monthly salary."

But she said current circulars and orders from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), particularly the National Budget Circular 514, diminished the SHA by setting its maximum amount to 25 percent annually compared to the law's mandate of 25 percent monthly as the minimum amount.

"Current circulars also limited the benefit by making a preference on the order of its payment and deleted the phrase 'other hazards peculiar to the place of employment, as determined by the Secretary of Education' which unjustly narrow the coverage of the (SHA)," Castro said.

"We urge the House leaders to swiftly hear this bill. Passing this bill into law is a step toward a safe reopening of schools as it gives importance and values the contributions of teachers and their dedication to serve," she added.