By Chito Chavez
Militant teacher’s group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) claimed that it received reports that comfort rooms (CR) in Quezon City and Manila have been converted to faculty rooms.
This is in dark contrast to the claim of Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones the reported CR turned faculty room in Cavite is an isolated case.
Citing their sorry state, more teachers came out to speak out about their same situation.
ACT has confirmed of also receiving photos validating that CRs in Maligaya High School, Sergio Osmeña High School, Bagong Silangan Elementary School, and Quirino High School in Quezon City, Villamor High School and Calderon Elementary School in Manila are converted into faculty rooms.
ACT said the pathetic and pitiful teacher’s plight is further aggravated by common cases where they “chipped in their own money to have the CRs remodeled and furniture provided so that they may have a space to do duties outside of actual teaching’’.
The teachers’ call for the government’s promise to increase their wages has remained unfulfilled making it even more difficult for them to make ends meet.
“Nowhere in any government agency will you see that employees take out from their pockets what is needed to repair government facilities. Teachers do it because they don’t have much choice and out of their vocation. This is one proof that we are not money-driven,” said Joselyn Martinez, ACT Chairperson.
Martinez noted that teachers were even compelled to set up makeshift faculty rooms in comfort rooms and under stairways due to the lack of budgeted and designated areas for them.
Martinez asserted “this is evidenced by the response of Briones and Bacoor National High School’s principal that they may use laboratories, libraries, conference rooms and other areas which have their own purpose’’.
“Sec. Briones’ tirade against teachers prove that DepEd does not intend to give teachers any dignity. First, they neglect us in schools by not providing us a proper office, then they oppose our just call for better pay,” lamented Martinez.
Briones told teachers during school opening that teaching ‘is not all about money’ in reaction to teachers’ clamor for pay hike.
“Teachers are the last that should be lectured about vocation, and Sec. Briones should be the last person to do so since her P3.9 million 2018 income bereft her of any moral ascendency on the matter. Unlike her, teachers live on poor pay but our dedication to our students and to the country drives us every day to continue teaching and make up for the government deficiencies, even if that means ending up deep in debt and with no pension left to support us when it’s our time to rest,” explained Martinez.
With the continuous violation of their right to just compensation and shattered dignity, Martinez expressed dismay, disappointment, and frustration that Briones wouldn’t support teachers’ call for salary increase.
“How difficult is it for DepEd to back teachers on their demand for a decent life? They’d rather think about private school owners who lose teachers because they pay poorly than their own employees who give body and soul just to make the schools run,” said Martinez.
Martinez observed Briones seems to have a very poor impression of teachers just because they speak up on their dire conditions and call for decent salaries.
“We don’t deserve to be painted as a whiny, selfish, materialistic bunch for asserting our rights. Maybe that is why the secretary would not support our call for pay hike, she thinks very lowly of us,” furthered Martinez.
ACT, however, challenged DepEd on their call to ‘work together’ after a post of Undersecretary Anne Sevilla made its rounds in Facebook last night.
“We have been trying to hold a dialogue with you but have been ignored since February 2019. But if this is you coming to your senses, our request stands. Meet us in a dialogue,” concluded Martinez.