A group of education workers on Monday, Jan. 16, called the attention of the Department of Education (DepEd) to the challenges encountered by teachers regarding their incentives.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in a letter, addressed to Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte dated Jan. 16, forwarded various concerns and recommendations of public school teachers regarding the grant and distribution of the Service Recognition Incentive (SRI) and One-time Rice Assistance for 2022, per Administrative Order 1 and 2 signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Dec. 16, 2022.
The concerns raised by ACT were based on the reports coming from regional unions nationwide gathered from Jan. 10 to 15, 2023.
Based on the reports, ACT claimed that the payment of P15,000 SRI “remains incomplete” in some schools from various DepEd divisions which include: Palawan, Region IV-B; Negros Oriental, Region VII; Zamboanga del Sur, Region IX; Zamboanga Sibugay, Region IX; and Sarangani, Region XII.
“Public school teachers observed that the distribution of SRI is largely delayed, defeating its purpose to be of use during the holiday break,” ACT said.
The group added that “only a few divisions” were able to release the first tranche of the SRI before Dec. 25, 2022.
“A great majority distributed the first tranche or full payment of SRI between Christmas and New Year, aggravating teachers who need to come to division offices in the middle of the holiday break,” ACT said.
The group noted that schools in some divisions were only able to release the first payment of SRI after Jan. 1 which include: Region II- Isabela; Region III- Nueva Ecija, Zambales, San Jose del Monte City; NCR- Taguig-Pateros; Region IV-A- Cavite, Quezon, Rizal, Antipolo City; Region V- Camarines Sur; Region VI- Iloilo, Antique; Region VII- Negros Oriental, Cebu Province; Region VIII- Northern Samar; Region IX- Zamboanga del Sur; and Region X- Bukidnon
Meanwhile, ACT also raised concerns about the application of the tax on the SRI which is “largely inconsistent.”
ACT noted that there were no tax deductions were applied in 80 percent of the areas it surveyed.
However, in other areas, “varying amounts of tax were deducted” in the SRI of the following positions: Teacher I - P500, P3130; Teacher II- P150, P235, P240, P900, P1125, P2000, P3000, P3470, P5000; Teacher 3 - P600, P1200, P1428, P1452, P1700, P1670, P2600, P3000, P4352; and Master Teacher 1- P2000, P3600, P3750, P5000.
Moreover, ACT noted that the rice assistance “remains unreleased” in 98 percent of the areas surveyed.
“While Caloocan and Pasay divisions have distributed 25 kgs. rice assistance to public school teachers, Davao City have only given 5 kgs. rice assistance,” ACT said.
Sentiments on SRI and rice assistance
As raised by some teachers, ACT noted that the amount of SRI was “lower” than what the President had ordered and what government employees in other agencies have received.
Some teachers also noted the “inaccessibility of and high transportation cost to division offices” as well as “long queues, unorganized system of distribution in the division offices” when it comes to their SRIs.
Other teachers also expressed concerns that the SRI was given on an “installment basis” in some areas.
Likewise, the group urged DepEd to provide full assistance to teachers in Bukidnon who have been victims of vehicular accidents in the course of claiming their SRI.
Give ‘justice’ to public school teachers
The letter, signed by ACT National Chairperson Vladimer Quetua, also contained recommendations to DepEd to “give justice to our public school teachers who have been disadvantaged once again in the grant of SRI and rice assistance, and to improve their experience in claiming their benefits.”
The group urged DepEd to request for additional budget from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to “fairly grant” public school teachers the full amount of P20,000 SRI. DepEd was also urged to assist public school teachers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) “who have not received a single peso of SRI or rice assistance” to be granted the same benefits.
The DepEd Central Office was also asked to issue “clear and lawful guidelines” regarding tax deductions on the SRI, and uniform application of the tax on SRI nationwide.
ACT is pushing for the distribution of cash payments for SRI at the school level to “make it more accessible to public school teachers and to avoid long queues” as well as the immediate distribution of the 25-kilo rice assistance to all public school teachers nationwide.
“We believe that we share the same objective of serving our public school teachers better in recognition of their invaluable service to the nation,” ACT said.