By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) called the government’s brouhaha about increase salaries of teachers as propaganda.
ACT said the Department of Education (DepEd) has been serving as “deodorizer” for the government.
ACT, earlier, urged DepEd to stop trying to ‘deodorize the government’ and instead work with teachers in fulfilling the overdue pay hike promise.
“The propaganda has to stop. More time should be spent on actually resolving the crisis in the pay of teachers and other rank-and-file employees, instead of on manipulating facts. Teachers are fighting for decent living and working condition, heed us instead of delegitimizing our struggle,” pressed ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez, a statement sent Saturday to BicolToday.com in Naga City.
ACT belied the claims made by DepEd that teachers’ welfare are ‘taken care of,’ saying that the data on salaries and benefits presented by DepEd bares the contrary.
The group also questioned the DepEd’s sincerity in its claim that it is supportive of raising teachers’ salaries when ‘all it argues is about how teachers are better off.’
Doubled salaries in 20 years
ACT Chairperson Martinez lambasted DepEd for ‘deliberately obscuring the entire picture’ when the agency claimed that teachers’ salaries have doubled since 2000. In a matrix released by DepEd, it showed that the entry-level pay of public school teachers rose by 119.2%, from Php9,466 in 2000 to Php20,749 in 2019.
“There is nothing special with the doubling of salaries in the span of two decades. Salaries of all workers have been chasing after the rising cost of living through the years but never managed to keep up,” said Martinez.
ACT cited that the 119% increase in teachers’ pay since 2000 are approximately the same, if not lower than those received by minimum wage earners in the public and private sector.
The minimum wage in NCR rose by 140%, from Php223.5 in 2000 to PhP537 at present. Salary Grade I government employees had 130% pay increase, from Php4,821 to Php11,068 this year.
Martinez however noted of the 5-fold to 6-fold increases in the salaries of top government officials in the same period. Cabinet members’ basic pay rose by 570% while the salary of the president increased by 606% from 2000 to 2019.
“The disparity between the increases in top officials’ salaries vis-à-vis those of rank-and-file employees begs the question: whose welfare are truly taken care of? More importantly though, these data expose the problem with the government’s salary scheme, which certainly do not follow their own claims at equitable and sustainable pay,” argued Martinez.
Martinez furthered that ‘social justice will remain elusive as the gap between the top and the lowest paid continue to widen.’
Better benefits of teachers
ACT also belied DepEd’s pronouncement that Secretary Briones’ ‘push for reforms and initiatives’ resulted in the improved benefits received by teachers.
The group argued that it was the ‘uncompromising pursuit for better pay and benefits’ that won teachers these rightful compensations.
“The government did not give these benefits out of their own will, these are hard won by teachers together with our partners in Congress, especially ACT Teachers Partylist,” said Martinez.
ACT detailed that the increase in chalk allowance from Php700 to its current amount of Php3,500 was campaigned by teachers inside and outside the parliament. The same goes for the additional Php2,000 in their uniform allowance and the newly included Php500 annual medical allowance for teachers. These amendments were made possible by legislations principally authored and pushed for by ACT Teachers Partylist. Even the official celebration of World Teachers’ Day (WTD) was a product of a law passed by ACT Teachers Partylist, which allowed for DepEd’s recent move to provide a Php 1,000 WTD bonus.
“The same resolve of teachers and partners who recognize the value of education will also win us our much-deserved salary increase,” Martinez said. [BicolToday.com]