‘Giyera o balik-eskwela?’ Teachers slam gov’t’s ‘misplaced priorities’

Published February 4, 2021, 6:38 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A federation of teachers on Thursday, Feb. 4, questioned the priorities of the government after it increased the combat expenses for the military while teachers get “pitiful” internet allowance in 2021.

As teachers clamor for the grant of P1,500 monthly internet allowance amid mounting distance learning expenses, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) lamented the “doubling of combat expenses for the military in the 2021 budget” while they were only granted P1,000 internet allowance for the entire year which was incorporated in the cash allowance raised from P3,500 to P5,000 annually.

“It seems the Duterte regime has no intention whatsoever to address the worsening education crisis amid the pandemic,” ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said.

Basilio noted that in the 2021 budget, the Armed Forces (AFP) of the Philippines got a 100 percent raise in the combat expenses of soldiers – from P100,000 to P200,000 quarterly for each company compared to 2020. Likewise, it was allotted an additional P5 billion in the total programmed and unprogrammed funds for its modernization program compared to the budget agency’s proposal for this year.

ACT lamented that the Department of Education (DepEd), on the other hand, got an P11 billion budget slash – with a P3 billion decrease in its computerization program.

The group alleged that Duterte government has shown “unfair partiality” to uniformed personnel since he took office – doubling their salaries in 2018 and favoring them in terms of benefits and insurance while the salary increase promise to teachers remained unfulfilled.

“It is purely devoid of reason for the president to take this bias to another level with the doubling of their war allowance when we are deep in health, economic and education crisis,” Basilio said.

Basilio noted that that teachers are now in “grave financial hardships” as while their meager salaries can no longer sustain burdensome distance learning expenses – the benefits that they expect to receive were “slashed and delayed.” 

Given this, ACT urged the government to urgently allot a supplemental budget for education and welfare of education workers as “obviously, lack of money is not the problem, prioritization is.”