Teacher Rose, a public school teacher for the part 11 years, could not help but feel dismayed.
After waiting for weeks for an incentive that would help ease her family’s financial burden during the COVID-19 pandemic, she received a lower amount compared to what was announced by the President and what her fellow employees in other agencies have received.
“Bakit P6,000 lang? Nakaka-dismaya talaga (Why P6,000 only? We are dismayed),” the elementary public school teacher, who requested for anonymity, asked. “May pinaglalaanan sana ako pero mas mababa ang natanggap namin (I’m saving it for a specific purpose but we received lower than what we expected),” added.
Teacher Rose was referring to the Service Recognition Incentive (SRI) which was announced by President Duterte. In December, he signed Administrative Order No. 37 for the payment of SRI to government employees for the year 2020 wherein government employees – including those of DepEd – are expected to receive an amount not exceeding P10,000 as SRI which shall be given not earlier than Dec. 21, 2020.
For DepEd, the granting of SRI was delayed since there were processes that needed to be considered.
DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla noted that since December, the concerned units of the agency have been exhausting all means to ensure the granting of the SRI as soon as possible. However, the process and the requirements takes some time.
As to why DepEd employees get lower than the expected P10,000 SRI, Sevilla explained that the AO 37 on SRI stipulated that an agency is authorized to pay “up to (the) maximum amount of P10,000 (per) eligible employee” subject to the availability of “pooled savings” of the agency. In this case, the pooled savings should come from DepEd “as a whole” or from all offices nationwide.
“Such pooled amounts shall be uniformly distributed to all eligible employees,” Sevilla said. “DepEd was able to pool more or less an amount of P6-Billion savings and it resulted in a uniform share of P6,190 per employee SRI grant,” she added.
Sevilla added that unlike the 2019 SRI – when DBM provided the fund cover for the P7,000 and DepEd only shouldered the additional P3,000 – the 2020 SRI is “all chargeable to available savings of every agency.”
“Other agencies are able to pay P10,000 per employee because they are only few in numbers,” Sevilla said. “For DepEd, we need to share uniformly the savings to about a million employees,” she added.
In an earlier Facebook post, Sevilla said that the release of downloaded funds for SRI to regions “shall start the week of January 18” following the approval of DBM release thru Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).
Earlier, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) also protested the “deficient” SRI and demanded the augmentation from the national government. “Our teachers are getting demoralized and restive with the string of unfair treatment the education sector is getting from this government,” the group said.
ACT pointed out the loophole in the AO 37 which “allows for the unequal grant of the SRI” as while it ordered for the payment of a uniform P10,000 SRI – it permits the grant of a lower amount if agency savings are insufficient. “This deviated from the president’s SRI order in 2019 when the budget agency funded 70% of the benefit while agencies took care of the remaining 30%,” ACT said