Amid steep inflation and mounting teaching expenses, a federation of teachers is asking the Department of Education (DepEd) to “exhaust all ways and means” for the speedy and trouble-free release of delayed communication expense refund and benefits – which education workers have long been anticipating for.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in its letter addressed to Education Secretary Leonor Briones dated Jan. 12, cited numerous complaints of public school teachers from 15 regions on the incomplete or non-release of the P300 per month communication expense reimbursement for the months of March to December 2020, as authorized by DepEd Order No. 38, series of 2020 which was released in November 2020.
“It is unfair enough of the government to make the teachers shoulder the distance learning expenses for so many months while they themselves struggle to survive the pandemic, making them suffer with the tedious and unreasonable refund process for a measly amount is already too insulting for our teachers,” said ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio.
Basilio revealed that majority of teachers have “not fully benefitted” from the refund order due insufficient school funds, imposition of stringent and unreasonable requirements, insufficient dissemination of the order, and non-uniformity of implementation on the ground.
In some areas, Basilio noted that teachers were “unreasonably ordered” to submit screen grabs of online classes, meetings and webinars that they have conducted and attended as proof of internet use, on top of internet bills registered under their names or official receipts for load cards or electronic load, and have all submissions notarized to have their refund claims processed.
“Why do we have to subject teachers to such suffering when we all know that it is impossible for work-from-home set-up and distance learning to happen if the teachers were not able to find ways and expend their own money to have internet access?” Basilio asked. “It is the government’s responsibility to provide for this critical input in the first place, the least they could do now is to reimburse the amounts immediately and hassle-free,” he added.
Aside from the refund, ACT is also urging DepEd on the pending release of the Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) 2019 and the Service Recognition Incentive (SRI) 2020 which “have been delayed” for a long time.
“Christmas and New Year are already over, employees of other agencies have already received it but the employees of DepEd employees are waiting for it,” Basilio lamented.
Meanwhile, ACT reiterated its demand for the provision of P1,500 per month internet allowance for all teachers and employees under the work-from-home set-up, saying that this should not be charged against the measly salaries of education workers.
“Our education workers have shouldered enough burdens last year for education continuity – it’s already year 2021, we hope that the government will fulfill its responsibility to our teachers,” Basilio ended.