DepEd says provision of teachers’ benefits 'timely'; group calls claims a ‘blatant lie’

Published June 16, 2021, 8:23 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Contrary to the claims of the Department of Education (DepEd), a group on Wednesday, June 16, said that teachers’ benefits are not just “overly delayed” but are also “inadequate.”

A public school teacher holding class before the COVID-19 pandemic. (DepEd / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) called out Education Secretary Leonor Briones for saying that DepEd has no “shortcomings” when it comes to the benefits of teachers in public schools.

Briones, in a televised public briefing on June 15, said that teachers have been receiving their allowances and compensation in a “timely” manner. She added that DepEd also has no “shortcomings” when it comes to provision of teachers’ benefits – particularly allowances and compensation.

However, ACT alleged that this is a “blatant lie” because the agency does not only have shortcomings but is “heavily in debt to teachers” as a result of government’s neglect to the education sector.

“Benefits delayed are benefits denied, and to say that teachers are receiving theirs on time is such a blatant lie,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.

“It is already hard enough for our teachers who must suffer the brunt of the government’s incompetence, the least the agency could do is own up and take responsibility for its shortcomings instead [of] lying,” he added.

ACT noted that with “measly” salaries, overdue of benefits, and out-of-pocket expenses for distance learning, teachers are often “forced to take loans and side jobs to survive the worsening economic crisis amidst the pandemic.”

Long list of ‘delayed’ benefits

In particular, ACT mentioned that the much-awaited Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) 2019 – which is supposed to incentivized eligible performances with 65 percent of the employees’ monthly salary – has taken more than a year before the DepEd was able to comply with the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) requirements. The group said that this “has only been recently approved for release this week.”

ACT also noted that the 100 gigabytes connectivity load for teachers and personnel – which DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua promised last March – has “yet to be released.” “While it was only this year that the P300 monthly communication expenses reimbursement for the months of 2020 were released, the majority of teachers have yet to receive theirs,” ACT said.

In Congress hearing last May, ACT said that DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio “also admitted” that the agency-prepared modules for the 3rd and 4th grading period “could not be used this school year” due to late printing.

“Teachers had to shoulder the responsibility for module reproduction and distribution at the start of the school year due to the government’s implementation of a half-baked distance learning program,” ACT said.

Basilio added that among the list of the government’s “debts” to teachers is the grant of the P1,500 monthly internet allowance, 77 days service credit and 25 percent overtime pay for the excessive workdays in the current school year, and Duterte’s five-year long “overdue promise” of a justifiable salaries upgrade.

Given all these, Basilio said that the list government debt to teachers keeps getting longer.

“Our teachers always go beyond what is asked for the sake of education, but that does not mean we would sit idly and just watch as the government take advantage of our teachers’ dedication to their profession,” he stressed. “We’ve had enough of the government’s lies and deceit, and we will charge the Duterte administration for its debts,” Basilio added.