By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Thursday assured teachers and other Department of Education (DepEd) personnel that they will receive not less than the mandated P4,000-take home pay despite loan deductions due them.
This, after Briones issued Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 55 series of 2017 dated October 26 or the revised guidelines on the implementation of the P4,000-net take home pay for DepEd personnel.
“This is one of the Department’s move(s) to protect the interest of our teachers and personnel,” Briones said. “We are also examining emergency measures to assuage the situation of those who have been negatively affected by the recent loan deduction,” she added.
DepEd Order No. 55 repeals the earlier DepEd Order Nos. 27 and 38, which, according to teachers groups, caused the “sudden and unexpected” deductions made to salaries of teachers for the month of October – purportedly for amortization of loans from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and other loan agencies.
Earlier, teachers groups Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) both received reports from many public school teachers and other DepEd personnel nationwide complaining that their take home pay was below Php 4,000. A teacher from Paranaque, for instance, reported that she only received Php 197.00 in her ATM for this month – an amount she cannot withdraw.
In the newly-issued DO No. 55, Briones underscored that “in no case shall the deductions reduce the employee’s monthly net take home pay to an amount lower than P4,000” as stated in Section 47 (Authorized Deductions) of the General Provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 10924 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2017.
Briones noted that “employees’ contributions or obligations” to the GSIS and Home Development Fund (HDMF) include both premiums and load. “Thus, payments for these, together with those for Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) shall be accorded first order of preference in deductions from the salaries of employees,” she said.
The “First-in, First-Served” queuing system, Briones said, shall be observed “except that deductions due to GSIS and HDMF shall be accorded first order of preference” and the “P4,000 threshold is observed.”
Briones also reminded the DepEd Authorized Approving Officers (AAOs) to “exercise diligence in certifying the NTHP of the DepEd personnel.” The AAOs, she added, “shall reiterate to DepEd personnel the consequences of applying for loans with various private lending institutions (PLIs) without their considering their capacity to pay.” Delay in payment of loans, she said, “may result in the imposition of penalties and accrued interests by the PLIs and GSIS.”
“All DepEd personnel shall ensure that they have the capacity to pay loans being applied for under the Automatic Payroll Deduction System (APDS),” Briones said. She added that “personnel whose loans are deducted under the APDS are advised to pay their loans directly to their respective lenders.”
Briones said that while teachers in public schools receive salaries higher than those in private schools and other sectors of government service, “teachers across the country have incurred P178 billion worth of loans from private learning institutions (PLIs) and P123 billion liability due to GSIS as of December 2016.”
“Although the net pay may increase or decrease, depending on the GSIS, HDMF, PhilHealth, BIR and other deductions, we would like to assure all DepEd personnel that their net pay, which goes to the provision of their daily needs, will not go lower than the P4,000 threshold,” Briones said. “With this, we continue to identify and implement measures that will enable our teachers and personnel to manage their finances and retire comfortably in the future,” she added.
Earlier that day, members of the militant group ACT trooped to the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City to urge Briones to repeal an earlier directive which allows loan deductions from their salaries.
Armed with empty pots which symbolize their empty stomachs, members of ACT held the “Kalderong Walang Laman” protest to strongly condemn the recent deduction from teachers’ and employees’ NTHP which – according to them – is “unjust” and “inhumane.”
The TDC, on the other hand, proposed several measures for immediate and long-term solutions to the financial woes faced by public school teachers and can be pre-requisite for the financial literacy program of DepEd.
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