Solons hit DepEd waivers clearing gov't of liability on teachers in face-to-face classes

Published December 9, 2021, 3:55 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Lawmakers on Thursday, Dec. 9 questioned the Department of Education (DepEd) over the supposed waivers exempting the agency from any liability amid threats of COVID-19 that are allegedly being given to teachers participating in the face-to-face classes.

During House Committee on Education and Culture deliberations on resolutions for the implementation of face-to-face classes in urban centers, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo expressed concern about the waivers that must be signed first by teachers in her city who will volunteer for the implementation of the face-to-face classes.

“Napagalaman ko rin na lumabas ang waiver mula sa DepEd kahapon na (I just found out yesterday that DepEd released a waiver) indicating that walang (they have no) liabilities whatsoever ang DepEd kung magkasakit ang ating teacher (if the teachers get sick). So because of that, maraming teachers sa amin na medyo natatakot na pong magparticipate (many teachers in our city are now afraid to participate)… for obvious reasons,” Quimbo told DepEd officials present during the hearing.

ACT-Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro raised the same concern by saying that waivers are also being distributed in Quezon City schools. She asked DepEd to review the matter.

“Medyo na-ano lang ako dito sa Naga City, nakalagay din dito no work-no pay rule shall also apply (I’m just concerned about the case in Naga City, which states the no work-no pay rule shall also apply to teachers),” Castro added.

However, DepEd Tonisito Umali clarified that the agency’s executive committee did not issue a policy on waivers.

“Ako po mismo sa lebel ng execom, wala po kaming ganyang polisiya. Napag-alaman ko lang po. We could assure you that we don’t have that as a policy for DepEd. Pero may mga ilang rehiyon po lamang [na nagpatupad],” Umali said.

Umalis said that the agency “will look into” the said waivers and gave assurance that the waivers would not be valid if there would be “negligence” on the part of DepEd that could risk the teachers’ health.

“Titingnan po namin kung papano ba ito na-articulate, itong waiver na ito (We will look into how the message in the waivers is articulated),” he said.

Quimbo also called on the agency to prioritize teachers to get booster shots since “they are now the only workers who have unvaccinated individuals in their workplace” as well as give them special risk allowance if there is really a need for a waiver.