DAVAO City First District Representative Paolo Duterte is lobbying for a monthly allowance for public school teachers to cover expenses for teaching supplies and materials.

In a press release, Duterte, along with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap filed House Bill (HB) No. 3543 to institutionalize the grant of P2,000 “Teaching Supplies Allowance” which will cover public school teachers in the basic education sector.

The proponents said that while “teaching is a profession that serves as a foundation of all other professions,” the salaries that educators receive, particularly public school teachers, are not commensurate with the sacrifices they make in helping shape the future of the country’s youth.

“Teachers serve as the nation’s modern-day heroes—tirelessly providing at par education to the youth and honing them to become valuable members of the society,” they said.

Both Duterte and Yap pointed out that public school teachers are using their own money to buy supplies and materials for their teaching aid.

“Public school teachers will have to cope with even more expenses to carry out their responsibilities once full face-to-face classes are implemented. Our proposal will help ease these financial woes,” Duterte said.

Under the proposed measure, P2,000 cash allowance takes into account the rising prices of commodities, including teaching aids and other related materials.

The bill states that the allowance "shall be exempt from income tax.”

In addition,the cash allowance covers the purchase of both “tangible and intangible” teaching supplies and materials for the implementation or conduct of various learning delivery modalities (LDMs) “within the school year.”

HB 3543 states that the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) is mandated to “conduct a periodic review of the Teaching Supplies Allowance, taking into account the current prices of teaching supplies and materials, and, if warranted, recommend the necessary increase in the amount of the allowance.”

Funding for the grant of the allowance shall be charged against the annual budget of the DepEd under the General Appropriations Act (GAA), the bill states.

Currently, the grant of the cash allowance to augment the teaching expenses of public school teachers, formerly known as the “chalk allowance,” is given based on the provisions indicated in the national budget.

Under the 2020 GAA, the cash allowance was P3,500 per school year. This was later increased to P5,000 per school year under the GAAs for fiscal year 2021 and 2022.

On August 22, most students in public schools returned to full face-to-face (F2F) classes, two years after it was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although some schools would still continue to implement blended learning until October this year.

Beginning November, DepEd Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte, the lawmaker’s sister, has required all public and private schools to transition to full in-person classes by November 2.

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Reynaldo Pardillo, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Partylist President Davao City, in an online message to SunStar Davao, welcomed the initiative of the two lawmakers.

“We are happy to know that there is legislation like this — to augment the financial needs of our teachers. It's a long time and dream of the teachers that there is somebody particularly in the Congress that have a heart for the teachers who are overworked and underpaid to have this additional income,” Pardillo said.

The teacher’s union leader said the measure comes at a right time considering the ongoing economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, they are also hoping that Congress would also push for the increase of salary for teachers, as the current rate cannot sustain the continuous rise of basic goods and commodities.

“There is a need that it is not the allowance that we need — a take home pay that really takes us home. Isang sweldo na makabuhay at makapagbigay dangal sa aming mga guro (A salary that could sustain and give dignity to us teachers),” Pardillo said.

SunStar Davao reached out to DepEd-Davao for their reaction on the proposed bill, but they have not responded as of writing. (RGL)