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BISIKLETA MO AT AKTIBISMO

(Alay kay Ka Eb Montes)

Ni Fabian G. Hallig

Akala ko libangan lang ang hilig mo sa pagpadyak

Dibersyon sa pagkabagot at hinaharap na problema

Hersisyong pangkatawang sa isip din ay pampatalas

Sinisikap pag-ugmain galaw ng bisig at paa

Subali’t para sa iyo’y hindi lang ganyan ang layon mo

Kundi paglingkurin ito sa pagtupad ng tungkulin

Matalino mong pinag-ugnay bisikleta’t aktibismo

Pandayan ng teorya’t praktikang nagsisilbi sa simulain

Sa bisikleta mo inaaral ang siyensya ng paggalaw

Ang ugnayan ng bagay-bagay at pangyayari sa paligid

Ang koordinasyon ng makina at pisikal na katawan

Kung kailan liliko, hihinto at muling bubuwelong mabilis

Di mo alintana ang pitig ng pagod na mga binti

Ang ngalay na mga braso’t kamay habang iyong tinatahak

Landas na palayo sa pugad ng mga buwayang kati

Na tinakasan na ng konsyensya habang nagpapakabundat

Ginto sa’yo bawa’t saglit na ginugugol sa pagmumulat

Sa pag-oorganisa’t pagpapakilos ng mga guro ng bayan

Mga masa at aktibistang sa Inang Bayan ay lumiyag

Namanatang maglilingkod sa guro at sambayanan

Mahalaga rin para saiyo ang gamit mong bisikleta

Batid mong bawa’t pagpadyak pag-usad ng kasaysayan

Ng pagsulong ng kilusang guro at ng malawak na masa

Tungo sa tunay na pagbabagong hangad ng buong sambayanan.

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Due to public pressure and clamor, DepEd moves school opening to October 5

By Joseph Cuevas

The Department of Education (DepEd) announced last Friday, August 14, the postponement of school opening originally set on August 24, 2020 to October 5, 2020.

According to DepEd, the memorandum given by the Office of the President to defer school opening to October 5 is pursuant to Republic Act No. 11480.

DepEd will use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening it is currently addressing.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers ACT said that DepEd’s decision was brought about by “very valid and sound arguments which the agency can no longer deny.”

“We have proven today that the people’s voices can and will triumph, and we shall continue to push the government to fulfill the requisites for a safe, accessible, and quality education,” ACT said in a statement.

The group added that preparedness at the minimum means a 1:1 module set to pupil ratio ready for distribution by August 24, a 1:1 ratio of laptop to teachers, internet subsidy to teachers and learners, health screening and PPEs for teachers, and medical fund for free treatment if they get infected with COVID-19.

ACT said it received complaints from school heads about the late release of funds from the DepEd Central office as well as depleted school funds for module printing.

The central office only released funds and utilization guidelines for module reproduction on the latter half of July, ACT said.

ACT photo

Many school heads said that the P9 billion downloaded funds from the central office have not yet reached the school level resulting in the failure to deliver the needed modules any day earlier than October given the stringent procurement rules and lengthy processes, the group added.

ACT said that DepEd has not given any assistance to teachers specifically responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that they are not asking beyond “hard-won and hard-earned benefits and entitlements of personnel, as well as already apportioned funds even before the health crisis.”

October 5 falls on International Teachers Day.

Better aid, wage subsidy for private school teachers

ACT-Private Schools also called on the government to support displaced private school teachers and personnel nationwide as the House of Representatives is set to finalize the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (BARO) Part 2.

ACT-Private Schools secretary-general Jonathan Geronimo said that even with a one-time cash assistance of five to eight thousand pesos will not rectify the past six months of state neglect, and will not at all suffice to cover their needs.

Geronimo challenged the Rodrigo Duterte administration to help educators, particularly the “long ignored private education sector nationwide” by granting a decent amount covering the months of COVID-19 lockdowns.

ACT Private Schools demanded the following:

(1) Better and more dignified aid,

(2) wage subsidy to teachers and staff,

(3) zero-interest loans for small to medium-sized private schools to sustain their operations, and

(4) an allocation of funds for the health and safety of private school teachers and personnel. #

‘Wala pa ring programang matino para sa mga kabataan at sektor ng edukasyon’

“Habang pataas ng pataas ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa ay nananatili namang bulag at bingi ang pamahalaang Duterte [at] ang DepEd sa nga hinaing ng mga guro at magulang. Kahit pa man pataas at palala ang kaso ng pandemya sa bansa ay wala pa rin siyang programang matino para sa mga kabataan at sektor ng edukasyon.”Raymond Basilio, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

DepEd, hindi hinarap ang mga gurong nakikipag-dayalogo

Nagtungo sa punong tanggapan ng Department of Education ang mga lider-guro noong Hunyo 19 upang makipag-dayalogo sana kaugnay ng pagpapapasok sa kanila simula sa Lunes. Nakasarang tarangkahan ang sumalubong sa kanila.

Ayon sa mga lider ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers at ACT Teachers Union-National Capital Region, wala silang natatanggap na pasabi kung paano mag-iingat ang mga guro sa pagpapasok sa kanila. Wala rin daw silang natatanggap na pasabi kung mayroon ba at kailan ang mass testing, libreng pagpapagamot sa mga magkakasakit ng Covid-19, internet para sa “blended learning” ng kagawaran, at iba pang katanungan. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas)

Red-tagged teacher receives international award

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) secretary general Raymond Basilio is this year’s National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) International Solidarity Award “for bravery and commitment in promoting human and trade union rights.”

In an letter, NASUWT, the teachers union of the United Kingdom (UK), also cited Basilio for his advocacy for quality education for all and for defending [the] status of teachers.

“The NASUWT International Solidarity Award honors those who uphold our shared, universal trade union values of solidarity, equality and democracy,” the announcement reads.

ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio. (Supplied photo)

“We recognize that you have been a vocal advocate of the right of all children to quality education and of the rights of teachers,” it adds.

Basilio had been the victim of vicious red-tagging by the Philippine military, prompting him to refrain from going home to his family for long stretches.

“[W]e wish…to express our deep concern and dismay at the continuing state-sponsored threats and harassment that you and your (ACT) members have been subjected to, including profiling, red-tagging, vilification, harassment, intimidation and threats,” NASUWT said.

NASUWT said that along with Amnesty International, Education International and the International Trade Union Confederation it will press the Philippine government to allow Basilio to carry out his legitimate trade union activities without fear of harassment or imprisonment.

“The NASUWT wants you, and the teachers in the Philippines, to be assured of our continued support and solidarity,” the union told Basilio.

The union said it hopes the award will help maintain a spotlight on the actions of the Philippine government and provide Basilio with reassurance that NASUWT and the wide international community, continue to support him fully and ACT as champions of the rights of teachers and students.

Previous recipients of the prize since 2013 include teachers rights champions from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Korea, Turkey, Iran and Argentina.

The NASUWT announcement said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, it regrets that Basilio would not be able to receive the prize in the UK in person. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Tulong Guro’ sa panahon ng COVID lockdown

Habang nasa ika-anim na linggo na ang enhanced community quarantine sa buong Luzon dahil sa Covid-19, marami sa mga Filipino ang higit nangangailangan ng tulong.

Ang ACT for People’s Health na pinangungunahan ng mga progresibong guro ay naglunsad ng “Tulong Guro” na ang layunin ay makapagbigay-tulong sa mga frontliner, laluna na sa mga health workers at mahihirap na pamayanan habang lockdown.

Background music: A life in a day Cinematic Folk Ambient Cinematic Sounds [KK No Copyright Music] / Bidyo nina Jola Diones-Mamangun, Arrem Alcaraz at Joseph Cuevas

Pahayag ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers hinggil sa tangkang pagpatay sa guro sa Bukidnon

Nagbigay pahayag si Joselyn Martinez, tagapangulo ng ACT Philippines, kaugnay sa tangkang pagpaslang sa kasapi ng ACT Region 10 na si teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez noong Oktubre 15 sa Valencia City Bukidnon.

On World Teachers’ Day, mentors reject 2k salary increase proposal

Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) reject a proposal in Congress to increase their monthly salaries by P2,000, saying the amount is not enough and is “insulting.”

As ACT members hold simultaneous concerted mass actions Friday across the country’s 13 regions on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, the teachers reiterated their demand for a P30,000 minimum monthly salary.

“We reject the P2,000 increase proposed in Congress as it insults our dignity as teachers,” ACT Teachers Union Region III president Romly Clemente said in a statement.

“We deserve a substantial salary increase for us to live decently and with dignity and self-respect,” she added.

In Central Luzon, ACT Teachers Union members are gathering in four activity centers in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac to press their demand for salary increases.

ACT members in Metro Manila will also conduct a similar activity in Mendiola at three o’clock this afternoon.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, the legislator seen closest to President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier filed a bill proposing a P2,000 salary increase for public school teachers.

In his 4th State of the Nation Address last July, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law that will raise the pay of government workers, including public school teachers. 

“To the teachers who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, what you have been asking for is included here. It may not be so substantial but it will tide you over,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Meanwhile, several other senators reportedly filed bills seeking to substantially raise the salaries of public school teachers.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 19 seeking teachers’ entry-level salaries to not less than P30,000 a month from the current P20,754.

“We should provide teachers with the right incentives to encourage them to remain in the noblest profession of educating and molding our youth to become productive citizens of this country,” Drilon explained.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian for his part filed a bill raising the salary grade  (SG) of public school teachers with the rank of Teacher I, II and III to SG 13, 14, and 15 from their current SG 11, 12, and 13, respectively.

Sen. Sonny Angara meanwhile is seeking to raise the salary grade of public school teachers to SG 19 at the minimum, which has an equivalent pay of P45,269 to P50,702.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Francis Pangilinan for their part proposed to increase the salary of public school teachers by P10,000, which will be implemented in three tranches.

Sen. Nancy Binay also filed a bill seeking to raise the salary of entry-level teachers to P28,000 and non-teaching personnel to P18,000.

Sen. Pia Cayetano also filed a bill seeking a pay hike for teachers.

ACT is commemorating World Teachers Day today, October 4, as its actual date, October 5, falls on a Saturday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)