Heartbroken teachers desperately hold on to Duterte’s ‘unfulfilled’ promise

Published February 11, 2021, 2:25 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

As Valentine’s Day nears, a federation of teachers reminded President Duterte to fulfill his campaign promise of doubling their salaries.

(Photo by Jansen Romero / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in a statement issued Thursday, Feb. 11,  said that fulfilling the promised doubling of salaries would be very timely especially now that the prices of basic commodities and other goods are soaring.

“We were promised doubled salaries but what we get now are doubling prices of goods and overly delayed benefits,” said ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio. 

He also asked how does the government expects teachers to continue their duties as educators if they cannot even pay their bills or buy enough food for their families due to “measly” salaries.

ACT noted that Duterte has promised to double teachers’ salaries in his presidential campaign in 2016 and “reiterated such at least 5 times in the next years but it has remained unfulfilled until now.”

After doubling the basic pay of military and uniformed personnel in 2018 through the Joint Resolution No. 1, ACT said that the President “promised anew that teachers will be next.”

However, the group lamented that the Duterte administration instead implemented the Salary Standardization Law V, which granted teachers a measly P1,562 increase in their monthly salaries every year from 2020 to 2022. ACT said that Teacher I basic salary increased from P20,754 in 2019 to P22,316 in 2020.

ACT furthered that teachers “have not yet received” the salary adjustment for this year – which forces them to be extra frugal and to look for other ways to keep up with the growing daily expenses amid the pandemic and inflation, in addition to the financial burden of distance learning.

The group’s computation showed that the 2.6% inflation in 2020 has eroded P580 off their P1,562 salary increase for 2020. As teachers are yet to receive the 2021 salary adjustment, the 4.2% inflation this January gobbled up another P938 in their salary increase last year.

“The inflation eroding teachers’ measly salaries and out-of-pockets expenses to sustain distance learning essentially renders the economic state of teachers worse today than in 2019,” ACT said. “The current economic crisis is expected to worsen because of the impacts of the pandemic,” it added.

Given this, ACT said the President should fulfill his promise before he ends his term. “The teachers’ clamor remains, fulfill your promise to double teachers’ salaries,” teh group added.

ACT is demanding for the upgrading of Teacher I salaries from the current salary grade 11 level to salary grade 15. The groups said that bills have been filed in the Lower House and Senate await Committee hearings.

On Feb. 5, several public school teachers also trooped to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). During the protest action, teachers danced to the tune of “Achy Breaky Heart” to urge the Duterte government to fulfill their “hearts’ desire” for additional benefits and funding for the education sector as a whole.