By Chito Chavez
Militant teacher’s group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has pressed Senator-elect Bong Go to be at the Senate’s forefront of ensuring decent pays and benefits for them.
In a press conference in Quezon City, Joselyn Martinez ACT national chairperson said: “We especially dare former SAP Bong Go, who listed in his proclamation speech the raising of teachers’ salaries as third among his priority legislations, to exhaust all means and resources at his disposal to ensure that teachers will be provided decent pay’.’
ACT said that Go who had pushed for the prioritization of uniformed personnel’s pay hike must also “employ the same urgency and commitment in the Senate to push for the passing of bills and resolutions that will immediately effect substantial pay hike for teachers’’.
As the next school year draws near, Martinez alleged the government has continued to “neglect the worst deficit in the education system—the just compensation of over 800,000 public school teachers under the Department of Education (DepEd)’’.
“For the longest time, teachers in public and private sectors have been among the lowest paid professionals in the Philippines,’’ ACT said in a statement.
Martinez said the teachers’ 2019 salaries of P20,754 falls short of the required P23,660 for a family of five, based on the study made by independent think tank IBON Foundation.
She claimed the relentless and record-high surge in the price of oil, utilities, food, and other basic commodities under the Duterte administration further eroded teachers’ salaries.
“In 2018, the real value of their pay was a few hundred less than the 2015 counterpart,’’ ACT said.
“Such deplorable condition of teachers as overworked and underpaid is a stark manifestation of the poor quality of education in the country. Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions,’’ the group added.
Halfway through Duterte’s term, ACT claimed the President has vowed in five separate occasions to increase teachers’ salaries but has not initiated any concrete step to effect such.
ACT stressed the DepEd-publicized approval of Duterte of DBM’s plan to conduct a study on government workers’ pay does not address the glaring neglect of the government of teachers’ plight, especially since the said study on public sector salaries works on the problematic framework of using the private sector pay as bench mark.
“Hence our most urgent demand for the President to immediately address the worst shortage in education this coming school opening. Teachers have suffered the injustice of meager salaries for far too long, it is time to fulfill the long overdue promise of meaningful salary increase,’’ ACT said.
Martinez called on the government to ensure equal pay for equal work.
“Our just demand is for the implementation of P30,000 salary for Teacher I, P31,000 for Instructor I, and P16,000 for all salary grade 1 employees,’’ she concluded.