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Harry Roque earlier declared that a special salary increase for teachers will only happen on 2020 when EO 201 is no longer in effect.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. #