Shortchanged and swindled.
This is how public school teachers feel as they continue to hold protest actions to call the attention of the Duterte administration and Department of Education (DepEd).
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines alleged that while the government is “saving a lot” from reduced operating expenses with the work-from-home set up and squandering billions on war machines while pampering the armed forces, it is “passing on to teachers” the duty of funding education.
“This is plainly unfair,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio. “Our teachers are being shortchanged by the government once again as we were swindled by President Duterte with his unfulfilled salary increase promise,” he added.
Wearing heart-shaped face masks, the group trooped to Malacanang on Thursday, Feb. 18, to urge the President to “ease teachers of burdensome” distance learning expenses by granting higher internet allowance.
ACT estimated that the government needs to allocate roughly P18 billion to provide all almost 1 million public school teachers with monthly P1,500 internet allowance for 2021.
During this week, ACT has lined up activities to express how “heartbroken” they are over the State’s neglect – with meager salaries and overdue benefits and worsening education crisis.
In particular, the group is condemning the government’s “taciturn” response in addressing its neglect for teachers’ welfare with unsettled issues of salary upgrading, full grant of delayed benefits, and a clear plan for a safe, accessible, and quality education amid the pandemic.
“The government’s utter neglect for education and for teachers’ welfare causes a huge blow in education stakeholders’ confidence in the government’s ability and its willingness to salvage the worsening education crisis,” ACT said.
ACT noted that the government’s “lack of commitment” in upholding the right to education and prioritizing teachers’ welfare “deliberately destroys any attempts from the ground to salvage the crippling state of education.”
The group added that Duterte’s broken promise of a genuine salary increase for teachers, instead granting a measly P1,562 monthly increase in teachers’ salary every year from 2020 to 2022 is a clear indication of his interest in teachers’ welfare.
Furthermore, ACT added that such meager “increase” is rendered useless amid the aggravating economic crisis on top of the slow pandemic response by the government.