Posts

Teachers’ plaint

By Luis V. Teodoro

Teaching is not about money but about public service, Education Secretary Leonor Briones told her constituents [at the start of the new school year last month].

She was right — at least about the public service part.

Teaching is also a job and not volunteer work. One has to have certain qualifications to teach, in exchange for which the successful applicant correctly expects to be justly compensated. Doing a public service job to get which one has to have a college degree and pass a government examination means getting paid for it. Briones and her fellow bureaucrats themselves are at the very least as much for the money as for the opportunity to serve the public, and it is simply not fair to expect teachers not to demand that they be paid fairly for the work they do.

Briones was nevertheless implying that teachers are in the profession only for the money. Adding insult to injury, she went on to say that the teachers of Bacoor High School’s converting a toilet rather than one of their laboratories into a faculty room was intended for “dramatic” effect. Their own principal disparaged those teachers by saying they don’t need a faculty room to rest in, in apparent ignorance of the fact that such facilities are not for rest, but for providing teachers the opportunity to discuss academic issues among themselves and to learn from each other.

Image by ACT

Briones, whom one media report said has taken a “hands off” stance on the issue, was responding to questions on the demand of public school teachers for salary increases, which they’ve been asking for, and have been denied, for years. Numbering 800,000 nationally, public school teachers comprise the largest group of employees in government service. But even their number and the fact that by law, education gets the largest allocation in the budget annually, have not benefited them much.

Then President Benigno Aquino III did raise through Executive Order 201 the salaries of civilian and military government employees in 2016 before his term ended. But what teachers received was only a very small 11.9 percent of their then salaries compared to the 233 percent increase in the pay of the President of the Philippines. As most Filipinos know by now, the P20,500 per month most teachers are still getting today is barely enough to support their families because of the huge increases in the inflation rate since 2017. Despite the lip service politicians paid teachers during the last mid- term elections, education is not their first priority.  Keeping themselves in power is — hence policemen and soldiers’ being paid twice the salaries teachers make.

Compared to 2016, the salaries teachers receive can purchase today even less of the goods and services they need to live with some dignity and freedom from worrying where to get the money for junior’s college tuition, or the hubby’s prostate operation. And yet as financially troubled as many are, some teachers provide out of their own shallow pockets the chalk, pencils, paper and other needs of their charges government cannot always provide, while they cope with the daily horrors of overcrowded classes, makeshift classrooms and even the lack of such basic instructional necessities.  Some teach hundreds of students in as many as three shifts a day. Others even provide their poor students the nutritious food their parents can’t afford.

Teaching may be a public service, but the compensation teachers receive is hardly commensurate to the multiplicity of tasks they are called upon to perform. Those tasks include not only teaching a multitude of subjects and being at the forefront of the national imperative of making every Filipino at least literate and numerate. They also have to entertain their superiors when these visit their schools, perform election duties every three years, and be model citizens for the entire community.

But the most crucial teacher’s task of all is that of awakening the love of and respect for learning among the young, in preparation for their assuming the roles of leaders, citizens, professionals and productive members of society. But no administration seems to have recognized this enough to provide teachers, most of whom are surviving from pay check to pay check and are heavily indebted, the salaries that that mandate demands.

ACT photo.

Then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte did promise to raise teachers’ salaries in 2015 when he was thinking of running for President. He has since promised it eight more times since he came to power, but it hasn’t happened. Instead he’s raised the salaries of police and military personnel without any prodding, apparently because he thinks them the guarantors of his remaining in office until 2022 – or even beyond, should plans to trash the current Constitution and to replace it with one more to his and his accomplices’ liking materialize.

In addition to teachers’ being overworked and underpaid, the police and military establishments that Mr. Duterte so obviously favors have even red-baited the biggest teachers’ organization in the Philippines, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).  The Director General of the Philippine National Police himself challenged ACT members to prove they’re not in a Communist Party of the Philippines “front,” and even tried to prevent their serving as members of the Board of Election Inspectors during the last elections.

The inevitable conclusion one can draw from all these is that, focused as it is on the preservation of personal, familial and class interests, like its predecessors the current regime not only has education as a last priority.  Although its bureaucrats can hardly articulate that thought, teaching is also thought to be a threat because teachers preside over the first encounter with learning and knowledge of the country’s young. In the minds of this benighted country’s ruling elite it can mean arming the next generations with such nonsense as the need for change and even revolution.

Not that that is an entirely mistaken view. As seemingly hackneyed as the cliches “Knowledge is Power” and “The Truth Shall Set You Free” are, they do say something that all human history and experience have demonstrated is true enough. Knowledge is indeed empowering: it provides people the understanding of their political, social and economic environments that can enable them to intelligently evaluate, and if necessary change them. By providing men and women the intellectual means to shape their own destiny and the society they live in, the truth liberates them from the vagaries of chance and the shackles of ignorance.

In the 1950s, in response to McCarthyite persecution of universities in the United States, rather than deny their commitment to change, progressive academics affirmed the imperative for true higher learning to question the political, economic and social structures of their time. The capacity to do that is ideally implanted in the brains of the very young when they enter the educational system, and through  the teachers who first introduce them to the world of learning, whether  the ABCs, arithmetic, literature, geography or any other field of knowledge.

In their heart of hearts the rulers of this sorry land know how dangerous to them —and to injustice, inequality, poverty and mass misery — true knowledge can be. Keeping teachers disadvantaged and indebted while pampering the police and military is only one of the ways through which they protect the unjust order that for far too long has kept them in riches and power.

Also published in BusinessWorld.

Teachers reporting more toilets converted to faculty rooms

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) revealed more cases of teachers holding offices inside toilets in response to Department of Education (DepEd) secretary Leonor Briones’ dismissal of such reports as mere “drama.”

ACT said it received reports and photos from Maligaya High School, Sergio Osmeña High School, Bagong Silangan Elementary School, and Quirino High School in Quezon City as well as from Villamor High School and Calderon High School in Manila that toilets have been converted to faculty rooms.

“Common to the cases is that teachers chipped-in their own money to have the CRs (comfort rooms) remodelled and furniture provided so that they may have a space to do duties outside of actual teaching,” ACT chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement.

Briones dismissed as theatrics a teachers’ Facebook post Monday showing they have transformed an unused toilet after vacating their faculty room due to classroom shortages.

“They had their choice they could hold their office in the laboratory rooms but of course it is more dramatic, it is more touching if you hold it in toilets,” a peeved Briones told reporters in an interview.

Bacoor National High School (BNHS) faculty association president Maricel Herrera is reportedly being threatened with an administrative case and cyber libel by her own principal Anita Rom for “damaging the image of the school and DepEd.”

ACT, however said, BNHS’ is not an isolated case as more teachers are coming out to speak out about their same situation.

Martinez added that teachers were compelled to set up makeshift faculty rooms in toilets and in stairwells.

Martinez also dismissed Briones’ claim teachers may use laboratories, libraries, conference rooms and other areas in schools, saying those rooms have their own purpose and must not be used as teachers’ lounges.

ACT also slammed Briones refusal to support their call for salary increases in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise.

In response to teachers’ demands for at least a P10,000 monthly salary hike, Briones instead said that the profession is “not all about the money.”

“Sec. Briones’ tirade against teachers proves 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.

“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,” Martinez explained.

ACT added that teachers are the last that should be lectured about vocation and Briones herself should be the last person to do so since her Php3.9 million 2018 income strips her of any moral ascendancy 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,” Martinez said.

“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,” she added.

ACT challenged DepEd to a dialogue.

“We have been trying to hold a dialogue with you but have been ignored since February,” Martinez said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PNP ‘profiling’ of ACT members continues

Progressive teachers said they have monitored at least 34 visits by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to schools nationwide to look for teachers to “profile” as “communists”.

Since the start of the year, ACT said the PNP’s profiling activities have spread to 10 regions nationwide.

In a forum at the College of Education of the University of the Philippines in Diliman Thursday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said 13 schools in Metro Manila; four each in Regions I, III and IV-A; three in Region V (Bicol); two in the Cordillera Autonomous Region and one each in Regions IV-B, VI, X, and CARAGA were visited by the police.

School administrators were asked to give personal details of teachers who are ACT members, the group said.

In a memorandum dated December 27, the PNP ordered an inventory of ACT members the teacher’s federation said is “part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s grand fascist scheme to suppress all forms of opposition to its tyrannical rule.” 

Despite widespread condemnation of the PNP’s memorandum, ACT said police harassments continue.

In his speech, ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio condemned the PNP’s activities against ACT.

“If the police is really looking for criminals, it should look at itself, the military camps, or Malacañan Palace,” Basilio said.

ACT added that on top of police profiling, it has recorded nine cases of threats against its officers and members.

Basilio said he was among the four mentors who received death threats early this week.

“I miss my home and sleeping in my own bed. I have been staying in places other than my home because of what they may do to me,” he said.

The forum was attended by Education International (EI) officials.

In a Facebook post, ACT Teachers Party Representative Antonio Tinio said the EI visited Manila to show solidarity with ACT in its struggle against the Duterte administration’s surveillance, harassment, and terrorist-tagging.

ACT and EI launched the Teachers’ Complaint Hotline and Legal Kiosk (Teachers CHALK), a teacher’ defense system against state attacks.

Teachers’ CHALK is a hotline for teacher-victims of state violence and aims to encourage the public to support the teachers’ efforts to defend their ranks through social media campaign, rights education, legal defense, quick reaction mass activities, ACT said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers receive death threats; suffer red-tagging from educ official

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) officers revealed receiving death threats through phone calls this morning.

In a statement, ACT in Central Luzon said Raymond Basilo, ACT national secterary general, as well as three members of their regional executive board received separate calls and text messages from a person who alternately introduced himself as Juvy Canete, Henry Pimentel of Davao and Lt Guerrero.

The phone number used to call the victims.

Using mobile phone number 0949-5628576, Canete/Pimentel/Guerrero said he and others have been contracted to kill the teacher leaders.

“May apat na tirador kami na pinadala diyan sa Luzon para ipatumba [ka] at lahat ng miyembro ng pamilya mo,” one of the phone calls said.

ACT said the calls started at nine o‘clock, first to ACT Region III president Romly Clemente.

At 9:34 am, ACT Region III secretary Mathew Gutan received a call  from “Pimentel” who threatened him and his whole family, adding he had an hour to pay P6,000 for each of his family members to be spared.

At 9:47am, the same number called Basilio, but this time identifying himself as Lt. Guerrero, saying, “Handa ka na.”

The last call came at 10:20 to ACT Region III coordinator Aurora Santiago, issuing death threats to her and her family, asking her to give money in order for the “hit” not to take place.

Audio recording of the call to Au Santiago this morning.

ACT said the calls came after retiring Department of Education Region III director Beatriz Torno red-tagged the group, publicly alleging some of ACT members are New People’s Army (NPA) fighters.

Education officer red-tags ACT

In a February 6 forum of the Pampanga Press Club (PPC), Torno said that almost all provinces in Central Luzon are infiltrated by teachers who belong to ACT and are alleged NPA members, the Philippine Star reported

Torno did not say where she got the information nor could she give figures on how many ACT members in her region allegedly belong to the NPA, the report added.

ACT said Torno’s allegations are condemnable.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the act of our DepEd Regional III Director Beatriz Torno for her public statement categorically tagging ACT Region III as being infiltrated by the communist New People’s Army,”  Mathew Guetan Santiago, the group’s regional secretary-general said.

“This statement is highly irresponsible, baseless, and downright malicious! It does not only       malign the good name of our Union but worse, it also puts in danger the life and security of our  members who might be subjected to possible harm for being labelled as NPA members,” he added.

The group said they talked to the official to seek clarification who reportedly denied having uttered derogatory statements against ACT. 

“She also promised to issue a disclaimer through the media but she failed to do so,” ACT said.

ACT said it filed a complaint against Torno with the Ombudsman yesterday using a video recording of her public pronouncement posted on DepEd Region III website.

The group added they aim to make Torno criminally and administratively liable for her irresponsible and false accusation against ACT and its members.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

The PNP on profiling ACT members


“There is no provision in the Constitution or in the law that prohibits anybody, specifically the Philippine National Police or Armed Forces of the Philippines as a law enforcement agency, to gather intelligence information.”–Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde–10 January 2019

Teachers hold sit-down protests all over Metro Manila

Teachers from all over Metro Manila are holding a sit-down protest today to call for higher salaries and benefits in light of recent spikes in inflation.

Seeking relief from their dire economic conditions, public school teachers from more than 350 schools in the National Capital Region stopped regular lessons and instead staged sit-down protests to dramatize their call for urgent salary increases and higher budget for education.

“For public school teachers, it is our instrument to jolt the regime into heeding our cry that it should take care of its workers who toil everyday to deliver the mandate of the State,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chairperson Joselyn Martinez said.

ACT members gathered thousands of students in school quadrangles and hallways to explain the economic crisis they say undermine the teachers’ economic wellbeing.

Support actions are also being held in several regions, ACT said.

NCR teachers are also holding simultaneous protest actions in front of the Quezon City Hall and in Mendiola.

“While in protest, we continue to fulfil our duties to our youth by educating them on the national situation and the people’s rights,” Martinez said.

The ACT leader said that the students’ social awareness and critical thinking are developed when public issues are explained to them.

Martinez blamed the Rodrigo Duterte government for its failure to fulfill its promise for a substantial salary increase at a time when their salaries have been drastically eroded by inflation.

Martinez also defended their sit-down protests against threats by Department of Education secretary Leonor Briones that their action may face legal implications.

“We have nothing to fear because our protest is well within our rights and in line with the performance of our duties. We are not abandoning our responsibilities. In fact we are doing this for the love of teaching,” Martinez said.

“We fight because we want to stay and continue teaching, especially our underprivileged students,” Martinez explained.

Martinez said the protest is being held in view of the plenary deliberations of the Senate on the 2019 national budget next week.

ACT Philippines lobbies that salaries of entry-level teachers be adjusted to the level of Police Officer I at Php30,000 monthly; that of Salary Grade 1 employees’ be increased to Php 16,000 a month; and an entry-level salary of Php31,000 for college instructors.

It also pushes for the adjustment of the Php2,000 Personnel Economic Relief Allowance to Php5,000 due to the steeply rising cost of living.

They assert for higher education budget to fill in the shortages in the education system and enable the granting of better benefits for the teaching and non-teaching personnel # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

33 percent rise in rice allowance for QC teachers

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed elation over the approval of a bigger quarterly rice allowance for Quezon City public school teachers and employees.

“This is a victory for the long campaign of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA) and the ACT Teachers Union-National Capital Region,” ACT national president Joselyn Martinez told Kodao.

The local government of Quezon City announced Monday that Mayor Herbert Bautista approved City Ordinance 2754-2018 increasing the rice allowance of the city’s public school personnel from P1,500.00 to P2,000.00 “in recognition of their valuable services to society.”

The new ordinance amended City Ordinance 2312-2014 that granted a P1,500 quarterly rice allowance to teaching and non-teaching personnel of the Division of City Schools of Quezon City.

The increased benefit will be implemented in the first quarter of 2019, the QC government said.

Martinez cited QC Councilors Ally Medalla and Raquel Malangen as authors of the ordinance.

“This is the result of QCPSTA’s alliance work with the city councilors. [It] talked to all members of the City Council as well as Mayor Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte,” Martinez said.

Martinez called on the city government to revert to Landbank in dispensing teachers’ local allowances citing delays caused by local government unit’s transfer to BPI Globe Banko. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers commemorate World Teachers’ Day with protests

Teachers from different schools in Metro Manila marched to Mendiola last Friday in Manila to commemorate World Teachers’ Day with a protest rally.

Led by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and ACT Teachers Party, they staged a National Day of Action for salary increase and against TRAIN Law of the Duterte Government.

Similar protests and actions were also held in Davao City, Cebu City, Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions.

According to Joselyn Martinez, National Chairperson of ACT, teachers experience the most oppression among government employees despite their leading role in social development.

The Duterte government failed in its promise to increase the salary of public school teachers unlike the military and police which was doubled this year, they said.

Teachers are also overworked due to oppressive policies like the Results-based Performance Management System and Philippine Standards for Teachers, they added.

They were force to attend different seminars and pay from their own pocket while their allowances are often delayed in arriving, Martines added.

According to Rep. France Castro of ACT Teachers Party, the P50 billion budget cut for basic education next year will definitely affect the budget for textbooks, feeding programs and other classroom materials.

The group also condemned recent harassments and intimidations against teachers.

This includes a threat of dismissal of Bacolod teachers if they push through with their planned mass leave. Police tried to prohibit Manila Public School Teachers from distributing leaflets and posters to their colleagues in the activity last October 4.

The teachers also slammed PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde about his warning of contempt to professors who teach ‘rebellious ideas’ to the students, citing that this is an attack following the ‘Red October’ Scare spread by the military and government cover up to the real issues such as inflation rate and TRAIN law.  (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

 

Teachers, education workers hold summit

Mahigit-kumulang 150 na guro, non-teaching personnel at instruktor mula sa iba’t ibang SUC’s, pampubliko at pribadong paaralan ang nagtipon-tipon sa Bulwagang Tandang Sora, College of Social Work and community Development, UP Diliman para sa National Education Worker’s Summit 2018 na pinangunahan ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers, All UP Academic Employees Union, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA), SOS (Save Our Schools) UST Chapter at KMED (Kilos na para sa Makabayang Edukasyon) noong Agosto 15, 2018.

Nilayon ng pagtitipon na ito na pag-isahin ang mga manggagawa sa sektor ng edukasyon upang alamin at talakayin ang kalagayan ng sistema ng edukasyon sa bansa tulad ng usapin ng mababang pasahod, seguridad sa paggawa, kontraktwalisasyon, mababang alokasyon ng badyet para sa edukasyon, programang K-12 at epekto nito sa mga pampubliko at pribadong paaralan.

Naging tungtungan ito upang makabuo ng 18 resolusyon ang mga guro, non-teaching personnel at mga instruktor.Ang mga resolusyon ay idinulog sa ACT Partylist upang maipaabot ang kanilang mga hinaing at pagtibayin pa ang mga labang kasalukuyang iginiggiit at tinutulak na maipasa sa kongreso.

Pangunahin ang mga resolusyon hinggil sa pagpapataas ng sahod, Teachers Protection Bill, pagpapababa ng retiring age, at marami pang iba. (Bidyo ni Maricon Montajes)

 

 

 

Hindi Ako Maglo-Loan (Petmalu na joke)

Ni Jocelyn C. Tripole

Hindi ko alam paano simulan
Baka maraming magtaasan
Wala pong personalan
Hindi po ako exempted sa listahan
Huwag po magtaka para-paraan
Ang aking joke gusto ko pong simulan.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Kahit pilipitin hindi makiki-isa
Ayoko makiuso sa mga kasama.
Unang taon sa eskwela
Kasama ang pisara
May darating daw na bisita.
So, ang naging resulta
Nag-loan ang maestra
Kasi ang room dapat pleasing sa mata.
Hindi ako maglo-loan
Ayoko nang sundan pa
Tama na ang isa,makaahon na sana
Sa dami ng reports at paperworks
Dapat nakikisabay ka
Printer, computer, laptop
In-demand naman talaga
Kaya sa bangko doon ako nagpunta.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Ayoko na! Ayoko na!
Konting-konti na lang ang natitira
Hindi nauubos ang aking pasensya
Seminar, training , coaching
Hindi ka pwedeng magpa-bitin
Kaya sa bulsa mo, dukot-dukot pa rin
Ang classroom, dapat home-na-home ang dating
Take note: galing pa rin sa bulsa namin
Ang garden at reading ating pagandahin.
So, loan ulit naging solusyon natin.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Pero may bahay na mareremata
Ang anak na ospital pa
May tuition fee na umaarangkada
Mura na lang talaga ang mura
Oo, isa kang paasa
Si kuya kailangan ng puhunan
Si ate manganganak na naman
Wala nang maintenance ang aking magulang
Si bunso kailangan din damitan
May lupang dapat interesan
May utang na dapat bayaran
Kuryente, tubig nagtaasan
Kaya ang bangko ang naging takbuhan
Sa tuwing may dinaramdam si ma’am
So, ‘wag nyo kong husgahan
Kung ang pay slip aking inaabangan.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Joke ko lang naman yun
Kung gusto mong seryosohin
Bahala ka na dun.

Habang hindi tinataasan
Ang sweldong nakalimutan
Hindi ako maglo-loan
Habang buhay kong joke un
Pwede mong seryosohin
Bahala ka na tsong!

 

(Ang makata ay isang guro sa Bulacan. Kahapon, nag-protesta ang mga guro sa pangunguna ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers sa punong tanggapan ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon laban sa pagtanggal ni Kalihim Leonor Briones sa net take home pay ng mga pampublikong guro upang masigurong mayroon silang maiuuwing apat na libong piso man lamang kada buwan.)