A Church group said its four volunteer teachers missing since November 12 were abducted and are being detained by government soldiers in Lanao del Sur.
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) today said Philippine Army troopers illegally arrested and are detaining literacy-numeracy volunteer teachers Tema Namatidong (28), Julius Torregosa (30), Ariel Barluado (22) and Giovanni Solomon (30).
Citing reports from its Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (NMR) office, RMP said that the four teachers were conducting classes on agriculture and community beautification when soldiers belonging to the 51st and 81st Infantry Battallions on board four military trucks arrived at Sitio Babalayan, Barangay Durongan, Tagoloan 2, Lanao del Sur, morning of November 12.
The soldiers were said to be looking for Sultan Jamla and Datu Langi who are community leaders in the area.
From then on, the volunteers went missing and cannot be contacted, RMP said.
On November 27, 2018, RMP-NMR and the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Iligan City were able to contact Corporal Rico Ordaneza of the 103rd Infantry Brigade who confirmed that the four are in his unit’s custody.
“We demand the immediate release of our volunteer teachers. They have been in the custody of the 103rd Brigade for 15 days– more than the prescribed number of days allowed by law that police/military personnel can detain suspected persons or persons of interests without cases filed before them,” Sr. Elenita Belardo, RMP national coordinator said.
A mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), the RMP said its literacy-numeracy program in Mindanao is an effort to reach communities too far away from regular schools, and is implemented with the help of the community members.
“These volunteer teachers are helping the children of their own community. Not everyone can have the perseverance and dedication that they have. They should be treated with respect and admiration and not be harassed and persecuted, ” Belardo said.
The RMP said the incident is among the latest attacks against tribal schools, students and teachers that have intensified especially with the Mindanao-wide Martial Law still in place.
On November 17, Esteban Empong Sr., 49, a member of a Lumad school’s Parents-Teachers Community Association was shot dead while asleep in a relative’s house in Kitaotao, Bukidnon while five students who are all minors were allegedly tortured by soldiers of the 19th IBPA while they were on their way home in Magpet, North Cotabato on November 18, the group cited.
The group also stated that that under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, one to two Lumad schools are being attacked every day with threats and harassments, military encampment, illegal arrest and detention, torture, destruction of schools, forcible closures and extrajudicial killings of teachers, parents and even students and among others.
“We demand an end to these attacks and we call on our friends from the religious community to denounce this latest arrest and echo the call for the release of our teachers. “ Belardo said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
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)
“Itataas natin ang panawaga, magkita-kita tayo sa SONA dahil alam naman natin ang puno’t dulo nito (mababang pasahod sa mga guro) ang ang patakarang neo-liberal ng gobyernong Duterte.”–Vladimir Quetua, Alliance of Concerned Teachers
By April Burcer
Despite the rains, teachers from all over Metro Manila marched Wednesday afternoon (June 4) on EDSA to call for an across-the-board salary increase for mentors and employees in the education sector.
After their General Representatives’ Assembly earlier organized by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-National Capital Region (ACT-NCR) Union, the teachers also demanded higher education budget and bigger chalk budget, among other issues.
The teachers’ assembly called for an increase in the monthly salary of non-teaching personnel to 16,000 and new teachers to 30,000 as proposed in House Bill 7211 filed by the ACT Teachers Party in Congress.
Joselyn Martinez, ACT-NCR Union President, criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for going back on his promise to increase teachers’ salaries even as he doubled the minimum wages of police and military personnel.
Duterte announced last month that he will increase the salary of teachers, although it will not be as substantial as those received by police and military personnel “because the government cannot afford it.”
ACT said teachers have only recently received a meager increase of 551 pesos per month under Executive Order (EO) No. 201 signed by President Benigno Aquino in 2016 that mandated a four-year pay increase for public sector workers.
ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said that the Office of the President, Vice-President, senators and cabinet secretaries, on the other hand, have enjoyed the highest salary increases under EO 201.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier declared that a special salary increase for teachers will only happen on 2020 when EO 201 is no longer in effect.
“They say we don’t have enough money for the teacher’s salary increase, but they have more than enough budget to pay for our external debt, for military expenses, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and pork barrel allocations,” Basilio said.
Overworked but underpaid.
ACT-NCR Union is also calling for better working environment for the overworked teachers.
Under the K-12 program, teachers have to deal with Individual Performance Commitment and Review Form (IPCRF) and other paperwork that eat up a lot of time, Basilio said.
Basilio added the limit of 26 children per class mandated by the Department of Education is also not being implemented, leaving teachers with up to 80 students per class.
Basilio is also concerned that the soon-to-be-implemented Learners’ Information System (LIS) will leave teachers with no sleep because these shall be held throughout the night.
ACT-NCR Union demands free annual medical and dental examination, regulation of class size and teaching load, provision of official time and union time privilege, and improvement of compensation during the next collective negotiation agreement to offset their overworked conditions.
ACT Partylist Representative Franz Castro for her part presented their effort to increase chalk allowance from 2,500 to 5000, augment the Personnel Economic Relief Assistance (PERA) to 5000 pesos, and provide teaching supplies allowance of 5000 pesos per classroom teacher per school year.
However, Castro said that it will not be possible to win this fight without the support of the teachers.
“Let’s join together in the coming State of the Nation Address to voice out our call for salary increases,” Castro said. #
“Duterte is morally-corrupt and barbaric. He has no right to stay in power!”
The underground group Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan or Kaguma commemorated its 47th founding anniversary Wednesday by calling on its members to resist the Rodrigo Duterte government’s “fascism and terrorism.”
In a statement sent to Kodao, Kaguma said it offers a red salute to all freedom-loving Filipinos, “especially to teachers who transcend their role within the confines of the classrooms” as they struggle to thwart what its calls Duterte’s rampage of violence and murder.
Founded in 1971, Kaguma went underground when dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law less than six months later in September that year.
It later became a founding allied organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) when it was established in April 1973.
In its statement, Kaguma condemned the government’s K + 12 curriculum it said objectifies schoolchildren as subservient labor to capital.
It cited the deaths of more than 13,000 victims of the government’s so-called war against drugs as well as 150 activists under Duterte.
The group encouraged relatives of victims to seek justice through the International Criminal Court’s should the case against Duterte push through and become a full blown trial.
“We must encourage the international community to look into the case and help by means of amplifying their condemnation as well against the fascism of the US-Duterte regime,” the revolutionary group said.
The group said teachers and the academe has a big role to fill-in in educating the broad masses of people on the true state of our nation under a tyrannical ruler.
“Duterte is morally-corrupt and barbaric. He has no right to stay in power!” the group said as it called on its members to rise up to end to Duterte’s rule.
“Prepare for the people’s uprising and drag this tyrant out of Malacañan!” Kaguma said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
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.)
By Reynald Denver del Rosario of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions
LUDY LOCSIN would sit in her empty cream-colored office on most school day mornings, waiting for students to arrive. Before long, she would see through her window parents dropping off their children and seeing them off to their classrooms. When the school bell rings at seven that is when her own official day begins.
That she says is the most peaceful time of her workday. As the first classes begin, calm descends on the entire school and she has time to read documents and tackle problems an assistant principal is expected to solve.
The bell would ring again before noon and she becomes busier, greeting parents who would enter her room for whatever concern they have with their children’s education. Preschool students would also regularly drop in with purple stars on their wrists and tell her how its ink has stained their uniforms. She would listen, always with a smile.
In the afternoons, Locsin would meet her class for an hour in the next school building. She dreads this part of the day, she says. It isn’t the chemical equations or the periodic table she would ask her students to master, but the flight of stairs she has to conquer first before she can reach her classroom. For someone who will turn 55 soon, climbing to the third floor has started to become hard.
For an hour, she would stand in front of her class and make sense out of what the chemistry textbook says. She would write on the chalkboard formulae trying to make equations interesting to teenagers. She knows her students find the subject hard. She knows they are sometimes distracted because they are almost always bored with offline activities. She admits to finding high school students increasingly hard to teach. But she coaxes them with patience and kindness. Every student in the school knows her as the school’s motherly figure.
She could have been a chemical engineer, she says. But she chose to be a teacher only because her other friends did. Eventually, she fell in love with it and never looked back. She has learned and taught it all, from literature to science to mathematics. On odd occassions, she is also the school’s guidance counselor, substitute teacher, sometimes its cashier.
“Kulang na lang, maging driver ako ng school bus,” she said, laughing.
She has been teaching in the same private school for twenty years now. She smiles as she looks back at its humble beginnings. From 40 pupils to as high as 600, it has definitely come a long way, she says. She has seen a lot of changes in the school, both good and bad.
Facilities are lacking. An almost-empty science laboratory, outdated computers, damaged speech laboratory equipment. Teachers like her find themselves improvising and finding ways to still provide quality education to the students. The school administration has sought ways to deal with these problems, but it still isn’t enough.
Ludy’s story may be ordinary for private school teachers like her in the Philippines. But rarely is it acknowledged that those like her receive much smaller salaries than their public school colleagues. And this is their biggest problem.
Private school teachers have lower salaries
According to Representative France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), private school teachers only receive an average salary of P10,000 per month. She cited a case where a private school in Isabela only pays their entry-level teachers as low as P8,000 a month.
“Minsan nga, umaabot lang yan ng P3,000 e,” she said.
Public school teachers, on the other hand, receive an average monthly salary of P19,620 per month, significantly less than the living wage of more than P26,000 for a family of six.
Teacher Ludy herself was a victim. It was only a year ago that she began receiving the minimum monthly wage from her school. She complained to a government agency, to no avail. She is her school’s regular employee in all but salary and benefits. She did not even remember when she became one.
Schools take care of their teachers, she was told at the start of her career. For two decades, she has learned not to ask for much. Her children, now working, studied in the school for free. Her workplace is a three-minute walk away from home. Her load has become lighter, and in a way, she’s relieved. Her life is simple; her love for teaching is good enough recompense, she told herself.
Her fellow teachers, on the other hand, aren’t as lucky. She has seen them come and go, choosing to find greener pastures. Many of them work now for other institutions. Her colleague for 15 years has recently gone to a public school, and she can’t blame her.
“Mas okay ang sahod doon, at mas magaan ang load,” Ludy says.
Public school teachers also have a relatively lighter teaching load compared to their private school counterparts. It is not always observed, but a public school teacher, by law, is only required to handle minimum of six hours per day, compared to a private school teacher who has to endure nine to 10 hours of work. Some are forced to work overtime but don’t get compensated.
The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) also guarantees comparably better working conditions for public school teachers than private school teachers. Private school teachers are covered only by the Labor Code, made ineffectual by numerous loopholes and exemptions, that subjects workers to unfair practices and labor conditions such as low salaries and contractualization.
“In short, our private school teachers are more overworked and underpaid than their already overworked and underpaid counterparts in public schools,” Castro said.
Castro added RA4670 by no means make things easier for public school teachers. Teaching in Philippine public schools still needs much to be desired.
“If things are a little bit better for public school teachers than their private school counterparts, it is only because the former are more organized and have taken to the streets numerous times to defend their rights,” she said.
Through two decades of selfless dedication, Teacher Ludy has been promoted to assistant principal. But she still cannot help but wish things are better for teachers like her. In moments of doubt, Teacher Ludy thinks of the job and the students she has grown to love.
“Doon ako masaya. Doon na lang ako bumabawi. Kita mo itong school, hindi naman ganung kaganda kumpara sa iba pero ang daming estudyante. Kasi maganda ang pakikitungo ng teachers. Yun ang puhunan dito,” she says.
School has meant smiling faces and dreams coming true for Ludy. It gives her more hope, more drive to wake up in the morning and go through the daily grind. Her life as a teacher has been a story of compromise, but she endured it all to be a part of something bigger than herself. Seeing students change for the better and achieve the best things in life has always been her life’s biggest reward. For two decades, she’s still enjoys her work. She enjoys being a part of her students’ lives. She sees in them high hopes and dreams, that someday she will read about them in newspapers or see them in television, talking about how successful they’ve become.
But just like other things, she knows it isn’t forever. Last year, Teacher Ludy already entertained thoughts of retiring, but she changed her mind.
“Hintayin ko na yung retirement age ko. Kung magre-resign ako, wala akong makukuha,” she says. She is not sure the school would pay her retirement benefits if she goes through with her plan and that made her decide to wait it out for half a decade more.
Teacher Ludy waits for the day when the school bell would ring for her one last time. She dreams of no longer answering phone calls, climbing flights of stairs and writing chemical equations on the blackboard. When it comes, she plans on taking it easy at home. It would be a happy moment when an odd student or two would visit her, tell their stories, tell her how life had been. She would listen as she now does in her office, she says, because that would just about be the only proper payment she would receive from decades of dedication and sacrifice from a profession that never pays enough. #
Students in Marawi struggle to regain access to education as the new school year started amid battles between government troops and the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, educators who recently visited evacuation centers in Mindanao said.
“The students harbor deep resentment because their return to their schools for the new school year has been hampered,” All UP Workers’ Union’s Felix Pariñas said.
Pariñas, who participated in the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission to Marawi and Iligan cities last June 13 to 16 was among the panellists in the Books Not Bullets: A Press Forum on the National Humanitarian Interfaith Mission & Needs Assessment by the University of the Philippines-Diliman Delegation held last June 20.
ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro, another mission participant, for her part said more than 20,000 students in the affected areas remain unaccounted for by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education.
She added that 1,424 teachers are still trapped in Marawi itself, 700 of whom are unaccounted for or have yet to report their status to the DepEd, Castro reported.
The DepEd has reportedly mobilized the Learning Continuity Program that aims to transfer internally-displaced students to schools near Marawi.
But Pariñas said DepEd’s program still has little or no effect as students in various evacuation centers are unsure about their chances of resuming schooling.
UP System Information Office’s Jo Lontoc, also a mission delegate to Iligan and Marawi, said there have yet to be arrangements by the DepEd, the schools and the local government units on the affected students’ situation.
“The fighting broke out during the enrolment period. They really don’t know if they can still go back to school in the near future,” Lontoc said.
The students also expressed hopes for an end the aerial bombings in Marawi, the delegates said.
“They demand an end to the aerial bombing, hoping they would still have schools to go back to when the fighting stops,” Pariñas said.
“Tattered, ragged,” Pariñas described an elementary school the mission visited.
Lontoc added that many students staying in Marawi dormitories were also forced to evacuate and have yet to reunite with their families.
“They are also evacuees who are separated from their families,” Lontoc said.
Pariñas added that students fear for their safety after President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement he would condone rape by soldiers as Mindanao is under martial law anyway.
“They dread the consequences of the President’s statement,” Pariñas said.
The mission delegates said that while DepEd organized relief efforts to aid students with school bags and school uniforms, these are bogged down by inefficient distribution as well as safety concerns and martial law restrictions.
“Multiple checkpoints worsen already existing issues such as traffic, even outside Marawi. This limits the inflow of volunteers such as the UP delegates from carrying out their mission,” the delegates said.
Castro said the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives intends to file a house resolution for an investigation into the validity of martial law imposition and the possible humanitarian abuses in Mindanao when regular Congress sessions resume on June 24. # (Eunice Lei Wu of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions / Featured image courtesy of Gabby Endona and Gabe Sante of UP-CMC )
Public school teachers trooped to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) central offices in Manila last June 16 to press for a ‘long-delayed’ salary increase.
Slamming DBM secretary Benjamin Diokno and Department of Education secretary Leonor Briones’ immediate rejection of their demand, the teachers said the two officials do not understand the hardships the teachers undergo with their “inadequate” wages.
The teachers were led by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and ACT Teachers’ Party. *(Videography by Ivan Dexter Tolentino and Esther Anne Cabrillas / Featured image by ACT) Read more