Groups to DepEd: Help employees who have contracted COVID-19

Published April 8, 2021, 8:38 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) was urged by two groups of teachers to extend assistance to its personnel who have contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in separates statements, asked the DepEd leadership to provide the necessary assistance to both teaching and non-teaching personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Along with the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country, the number of teachers affected by the disease continues to increase,” TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said in Filipino.

Citing the group’s own monitoring, ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio also noted of the growing number of teachers and their family members who got infected amid the new COVID-19 surge. “Not a few have succumbed to the disease and are deep in debt as their salaries cannot afford them proper medical treatment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Basas noted that it has become common in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces to hear teachers – “some of whom are even our colleagues in our division or school itself” – who have been positive for the disease.

Based on TDC’s monitoring, Basas said that the reasons why many are exposed to the virus vary – some may have been infected in their community, at home and even in their own workplace which is the school. “Not a few cases were reported to be infected due to going to school or attending face -to -face seminars or meetings,” he added.

Regardless the cause of the infection, Basas said that “no teacher wanted this” as many of them are just fulfilling their duties. Given this, TDC said that the agency they serve – the DepEd – should also be held responsible when they get infected.

“But sadly, DepEd does not seem to be ready to provide assistance to its teachers and staff who are infected with COVID-19, whether or not it is related to work,” Basas said.

Basas claimed that often, the assistance given to the personnel who get sick does not come from DepEd itself but “from our own contributions or personal help” from some officials.

“It seems that support is not an obligation but only an option, but the generosity of those who want to help,” Basas said. “Charity has become what should have been the responsibility and mandate of the government according to law,” he added.

For instance, Basas noted the incident in Zambales where at least 30 DepEd personnel were infected after a face-to-face training was conducted which violated the policies of Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the local government and the DepEd itself.

Both TDC and ACT are currently asking for a complete data of COVID-19 cases from DepEd and the causes of these cases. The groups believed that if there are any negligence found, those who are responsible should be held accountable.

As the teachers groups await for the data from the agency, they are urging DepEd to be accountable to teachers and staff who were are infected by providing them and their families with financial assistance. 

TDC and ACT are also asking DepEd to ensure free medical services to those who were infected in accordance with the provisions of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670).