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Injustices breed activism, teachers tell Bato and Albayalde

The Filipino people’s intensifying poverty and other social injustices drive students to activism, a teachers group said in response to accusations they encourage their students to join rallies.

Replying to accusations by Senator Bato dela Rosa and police chief Oscar Albayalde that teachers encourage “anti-government” sentiments among students and the youth, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said it is not the teachers’ fault but poverty, corruption and human rights violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

The two officials separately blamed the teachers following a Senate hearing where dela Rosa presented parents who complained that their children have left home and joined activist organizations.

Dela Rosa and Albayalde said teachers should “just do their jobs and not make students turn against the government.”

Dela Rosa went as far as ask that teachers who encourage students to join rallies must be fired.

“They should be removed. Parents enter [sic] their students there [in schools] to become professionals, not to fight the government,” Dela Rosa said.

Albalyalde, for his part accused the teachers of brainwashing their students.

“What they should stop [doing] is brainwash[ing] the students. You are a teacher, you act like a teacher,” Albayalde said.

Their statement did not sit well with the teachers.

What the teachers are doing

 “The two officials are not in the position to lecture us on our jobs. Their stances show that they have very little appreciation of the objectives of education,” ACT national chairperson Joselyn Martinez retorted in a statement Friday, August 16.

Martinez  said teachers are teaching their students patriotism, love of humanity, human rights, heroism, history, rights and duties of citizens, ethical and spiritual values, moral character and personal discipline, critical and creative thinking, scientific and technological knowledge and vocational efficiency as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.

“It is not the teachers’ fault if the government leadership acts in contrast to the values upheld by education. They should not blame us if the youth calls out the government for the ills that they see in society. We are only doing our job,” she explained.

Martinez said that the government should not find fault in teachers encouraging students to attend rallies as these are “real-life events that hold many learnings for the students.”

“It exposes our students to people from different walks of life who have grievances that are worth hearing. It helps broaden the youth’s view of our society and offers education that cannot be learned inside the classroom and from textbooks,” Martinez said.

It is the two officials who should show respect instead of preventing the youth from exercising their rights, the teacher said.

Part of democracy

Martinez hit dela Rosa and Albayalde for “demonizing activism and rallies which are basic constitutional rights of the people, including students and teachers.”

“In the guise of attempting to curb armed rebellion, dela Rosa and Albayalde are in effect discrediting the fundamental rights of the people to free expression, self-organization and to protest. It is them who are not doing their jobs as being government officials, their constitutional duty is to respect and uphold such rights,” Martinez said.

“Rallying is not a crime. It appears that dela Rosa’s and Albayalde’s rants all boil down to this administration’s intolerance of dissent. They should stop in their desperate bid to silence critics. We’re in a democracy after all,” Martinez said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘A little bit bigger’ is not enough, teachers tell Duterte

Teachers are unhappy with Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement of a salary increase, saying they find no confort in the President’s latest promise of a pay hike that that is only ‘a little bit bigger.’

“We find no comfort in President Duterte’s announcement of a pay hike that is ‘a little bit bigger than before’ for teachers, nurses, and all other government employees under another SSL (salary standardization law), which he urged Congress to pass,” the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said immediately after Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address last Monday.

Duterte urged lawmakers to pass a new SSL to benefit teachers, nurses and other government employees.

“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 big but it will tide you over,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

ACT expressed disappointment over the President’s announcement, saying it was not what Duterte promised three years ago.

“If anything, it raises further anxieties among teachers who are hardly making ends meet due to very low pay amid incessantly soaring prices, and who have waited restlessly over the last three years for the fulfilment of President Duterte’s promise to give due recognition to the value of our service and profession,” ACT said.

The group said new promise of a pay hike that is “a little bit bigger than before” is best exemplified by Senator Bong Go’s proposed bill of a Php588 increase in the pay of salary grade 1 employees, with the rest of the grade levels following accordingly.

“Such an amount is an insult to our service and contribution to national development,” ACT said, adding a minimal salary increase will fail to feed their families and bring their children to school.

“It will not free us from the chains of debts which our economic situation has forced upon us,” ACT said.

The group added that Duterte’s latest promise will not raise the standards of living of more than a million civilian employees, afford them decent lives nor bring dignity to the teaching profession.

“’A little bit bigger’ is not what he promised us. Hence, we pledge to remain steadfast in our demand for a substantial salary increase because we deserve a lot more than what this administration is offering us, and we shall not cease until we get what is rightfully ours,” ACT said.

Duterte has more than doubled the salaries of soldiers as well as police, jail and fire protection officers in January 2018. # (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)

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

4 missing teachers in Philippine Army custody

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 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)

‘Magkita-kita tayo sa SONA’

“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

Teachers call for 30K salary increase

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.  #

Kaguma @ 47: ‘Drag tyrant out of Malacañan!’

“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.

Kaguma logo.

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)