MEMBERS of Kahugpungan sa mga Magtutudlo og Kawani sa Edukasyon sa Mindanao-Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Davao City (Kamkem-ACT) welcomed the filing of a bill that seeks to upgrade the teachers' salary.

House Bill (HB) 2142, or the "An Act Upgrading the Minimum Salary Grade of Public School Teachers from Salary Grade 11 to 15," was filed by the ACT Teachers Party-list on Wednesday.

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Kamkem-ACT Davao chair Elenito Escalante said that at present, the entry-level pay for public school teachers is at P15,649 per month.

With the passage of the bill, the teacher's minimum pay would increase to P24,887 per month.

Public school teachers in elementary and secondary schools, including those in vocational and technical schools and state universities and colleges, whether nationally or locally funded, are covered by the bill.

"We believe that the filing of this bill is a step towards achieving a decent living wage that we have been fighting for," Escalante said on Sunday.

Escalante said the low salary of teachers has made them prone to be victims of loan sharks, private lending institutions and even from borrowing heavily from government financial institutions, like the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Escalante said in a recent teachers' consultation sponsored by Kamkem-ACT Davao that almost all teachers who attended the event complained about their GSIS membership.

"The GSIS has deprived us of benefits to which we are entitled. We complain of huge deductions on the maturity of our GSIS insurance policy, of being charged with unexplained premiums in arrears, of not receiving annual dividends from GSIS, of being denied survivorship benefits, of GSIS failure to deduct loan payments, resulting in huge interests on loans, of retirees subjected to huge deductions on our benefits," he said.

With this, he said they are heavily indebted to financial institutions "because of the need to bridge the gap between our low salary and the daily survival of our families."

Escalante said they vow to support the bill and they will gather broader support from various teachers' clubs and associations, including the supervisors and superintendents of our public schools.

"This is to encourage their active participation in the fight for the immediate passage of the bill considering its urgency and legitimacy," he said. (JCZ)