By Benjo Basas, national chairman of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition
WE GIVE the Department of Education (DepEd) and its concerned offices the benefit of the doubt and we expect explanation from them in relation to the COA findings (which identified P13 billion in unexplained expenses). At the end of the proper procedure, if there are proven irregularities of neglect, both should be dealt with accordingly and those responsible should be held liable. That is the way the DepEd does it with erring rank-and-file employees and teachers.
If we give the money for the welfare of our teachers, surely it will go to its intended use with a ‘return of investment’ in several folds. Sa lahat ng gastusin sa edukasyon, teacher ang hindi dapat tinitipid. Dahil bawat pisong ibinibigay sa guro ay sulit na sulit. Mahirap yatang maunawaan na nasasayang ang pondo ng DepEd sa mga error-filled books at iba pang gastusin pero hindi mabigyan ng nararapat na sahod ang mga guro.
Because of the lack of instructional materials and the technology-based instructions at present, teachers will have to spend more money for lesson preparation that needs internet connectivity, computer and printer. Teachers have to bear the expenses for these necessities.
We have been lobbying for a P10,000 across-the-board increase for teachers and DepEd employees, but recent pronouncement from President Rodrigo Duterte suggests that the increase is not the one they expect.
The president did not mention any amount, but he did give us hints that the increase will only be a continuation of the present scheme of salary standardization law (SLL), which for us is unfair and discriminatory especially for low level teachers who perform the actual daily tasks of classroom instruction.
The President during the State of the Nation Address ordered the Congress to provide the salary increase of government workers by crafting the next SSL, which according to him will include teachers and nurses. The increase for teachers’ salaries under this, he said is not too big but a little higher than the previous one.
Recently, Malacanang thru Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the President would not renege on his promise to double the salary of public school teachers. We are not losing hope that the President would still be willing to address this disparity, after all, this is a part of his promise. Kahit hindi nga doblehin masaya na kami, a P10,000 increase will be fine.
There are only two SSL proposals filed in the Senate, the Senate Bill (SB) 49 authored by Sen. Ralph Recto and the SB 200 by Sen. Bong Go. Recto’s proposal would give a total of P6,870 increase spread over three years, while Go’s counterpart would only give teachers a one-time increase of P591 by next year.