By Genalyn Kabiling
Public school teachers are certain to get their pay increase this year.
In his visit to Bulacan, President Duterte pledged to raise the salaries of public school teachers following the recent pay hike granted to soldiers.
The President invited representatives of school teachers to visit Malacañang this month to finalize an agreement on the planned salary increase.
“I am willing to strike a deal in the presence of (Education) Secretary (Leonor) Briones sa mga maestra. You can choose the date January, bilisan lang ninyo [just make it fast], then we can make even an agreement or manifesto or choose whatever kind of document, kayo ang isusunod ko this year,” Duterte told the teachers gathered at the groundbreaking of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar National High School in Bulacan.
Duterte said he already talked to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno about the funds needed for the proposed salary adjustment for public school teachers this year. He explained that he prioritized the pay hike of soldiers in anticipation of the deadly terror siege in Marawi City in 2017.
“Nanay ko teacher. Ako ba naman magloko sa inyo [My mother was a teacher. I will not fool you] but I was talking to Diokno at the year end to find out how things are, could we afford,” he said.
“I can maybe accommodate your representatives, pumunta kayo sa Malacañang,” he added.
No to leftist teacher
Duterte, however, was not keen on meeting any left-leaning school teachers at the Palace.
“Huwag ‘yung left, magsabi pa sila na hindi sila komunista, magbolohan pa tayo. Galing ako dyan, eh. I’ve been a socialist all my life,” he said.
Duterte made the remarks after some lawmakers expressed concern about the possible delay in the salary hike for government workers due to the non-passage of the 2019 national budget. The government is currently operating on a re-enacted budget.
Diokno had earlier said implementing the fourth tranche of the salary hike without the passing the 2019 budget would be unconstitutional. He assured though that the pay hike will be applied retroactively from January 2019 once the budget bill is signed into law.
On Friday, Diokno said then pay increase will be implemented next month (read related story).
“All government employees will get an increase in pay – the fourth tranche of SSL4 – this year, but it has to wait for the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act,” he said.
He said the budget department has initiated a study for the increase in compensation for government workers from 2020 to 2022.
Pay hike hailed
Senator Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ Angara hailed the announcement of President Duterte to increase teachers’ salaries. He expressed hope that the pay adjustment would be equivalent or close to the rate he has been pushing for since 2016.
Angara, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he was happy that he and the Chief Executive were on the same page in terms of providing public school teachers a salary that would be commensurate to their value to Philippine society.
“Our teachers may have one of the hardest jobs with the smallest monetary reward, thus giving them a reasonable raise would help them feel more appreciated and understand why they wanted the job in the first place,” he explained.
President Duterte renewed his promise last Thursday to increase the take-home pay of public school teachers.
He, however, did not mention how much the increase would be, but said it would definitely be on top of the fourth and last tranche of salary increases for all government workers that will be implemented this year.
Angara, a member of the Senate majority bloc, pointed out that he has been pushing for teachers’ salary hike since he was a member of the House of Representatives representing the lone district of Aurora province.
In June, 2016, Angara filed Senate Bill 135 which sought to adjust the minimum salary grade level of teachers from Salary Grade 11 to 19, or double their current monthly base pay of P20,179 to P42,099.
Angara said he believes that the pay increase would attract more qualified and competent educators to teach in public schools.
“Our teachers are considered to be the heart of the educational system. The government needs to give priority to their welfare and interests,” Angara pointed out.
“Definitely, this would lead to an improvement in the quality of education in our public school system,’’ he added.
Angara, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance tasked to sponsor the 2019 budget of the Commission on Higher Education and state colleges and universities (SUCs), also pushed for the allocation of P2.9 billion to fund the job promotion of faculty members of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) across the country.
Such funding aims to implement National Budget Circular (NBC) 461, a system of evaluation and promotion for SUC faculty members that was supposed to be given in full in 2017.
No budget, however, has been allocated for NBC 461 Cycle 7 (2013-2016) because of the moratorium imposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Funding for SUC faculty promotion was again excluded in the P3.757-trillion proposed budget the DBM submitted to Congress for consideration.
Around 35,000 faculty members stand to benefit from the funding of NBC 461. (With a report from Mario B. Casayuran)