AMID the teachers' protest actions on the first day of classes on Monday to demand higher wages, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara has reiterated his call for the passage of his bill that seeks to increase the salary of public school teachers in elementary and secondary schools.
"I urge my colleagues here in the Senate to hear the sentiments of our teachers and immediately act on the pending bills seeking to increase the salaries of public school teachers," said Angara, who filed Senate Bill 61 that aims to upgrade the salary grade (SG) level of teachers from SG 11 to 19.
"Public school teachers are the heart of the Philippine public school system but they are among the most underpaid workers given their workload and service in the society. They receive a basic salary that does not commensurate to their contribution," he added.
The teachers, led by the militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), are pushing for their salaries to be increased to P25,000 a month from the current rate of more than P18,000, and have threatened to take a mass leave if the government does not act favorably on their request.
Angara's proposed measure, on the other hand, would nearly double the minimum salary of public school teachers from its current monthly base pay of P18,549 to P33,859.
According to reports, the Malacanang has already stated that the government has no available funds to bankroll the proposed salary hike for public school teachers this year, and that it will have to wait to be reviewed next year.
"I have authored this measure since my time in the Lower House and I will continue to file this in the Senate as one of my top priority bills. The salary increase, which will give relief to the 3.2 million financially burdened teachers, is well deserved. The Constitution guarantees a living wage and they deserve more than what they presently get," the neophyte senator said.
Angara, during his term as Aurora representative, was one of the authors of a joint resolution urging the President to modify the compensation and position classification system in the government, known as the Salary Standardization Law III, which in turn, raised the salary of public school teachers.
The senator noted that the relatively low salaries received by our public school teachers have been a major disincentive for them to improve their skills in teaching and pursue further education and training.
He added that public schools have failed to attract the best and the brightest students from top colleges and universities because of the unattractive salary levels, preventing our public education system from benefiting from the knowledge and expertise of outstanding teachers.
"With this increase in salaries, more qualified and competent educators will be attracted to teach in public schools. Having inspired, capable teachers is probably one of the best investments our government could make.
"Definitely, this will greatly help motivate our teachers to strive for excellence in their field and thus, improve the quality of education in the public school system," Angara said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)