DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Monday responded on President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of 35 percent salary increase, saying it is “unsatisfactory” and will “not appease teachers’ growing restlessness” in their demand for a substantial pay hike.
Coming from his Russia trip on Sunday, Duterte assured that the salary hike he promised for thousands of public school teachers will be granted within this year. However, it will not be doubled similar to earlier salary hike for uniformed personnel, he said.
The President made the promise as teachers across the country went to streets on World Teacher’s Day celebration to raise anew their call for a substantial salary increase for teachers and all civilian employees. In different schools, teachers also staged human ’30k’ formations to echo the call for Php 30,000 entry-level pay.
“Aside from clarity, seeing as how he had media reports confused with the vague mention of a ‘35 or more’ figure for the pay hike, what we need from the President is not another empty promise but a concrete, clear-cut, and tangible measure with a definite timeline for a substantial increase for teachers and all other civilian employees,” ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement on Monday.
Martinez said that 35 percent of salary increase for teachers is not enough “to allow us a decent living and dignify our profession.”
“We teachers deserve no less from this government and we are committed to fighting for what is due us,” Martinez said.
Until there’s an approved budget allocation for a substantial pay hike, she said that the government should expect bigger protests from the group in campaigning the issue of the pay hike. “We will not cease in calling upon the President to deliver on his promise, and we shall continue to link arms with fellow civilian workers in the fight for decent pay,” Martinez said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara earlier filed Senate Bill 131 which proposes that the monthly compensation of entry-level teachers be increased from the present salary grade 11 or P20,754 to salary grade 19 or P45,269, based on the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law.
In reaction, Ophelia Tabacon, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) regional chairperson for Northern Mindanao, said they are taking the lawmaker’s pronouncement with a grain of salt.
“We welcome his proposal,” Tabacon said in a statement Saturday, “but I hope it is not only a lip service to appease teachers during World Teachers’ Day.”
If Angara is really keen on advancing the rights of public school teachers, she said the senator must not delay the passage of his proposed bill.
Tabacon said: “If he is serious then he should act on it immediately or support ACT Teachers party-list House Bill on P30,000 entrance pay level of teachers.”
In news reports, Angara has emphasized the important role of teachers in society as the ones who molded children.
Angara said he has observed that while the wages of other civil servants such as the police and soldiers have increased, the public school teachers’ take-home pay has remained the same over the years.
He noted that increasing the salaries of government teachers is one of the promises made by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address, Duterte made such promise, although the government has not implemented that increase yet.
Meanwhile, in the wake of red-tagging incidents that accused ACT as supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), Tabacon has denied the allegation as she maintained their group’s only aim is to promote the rights of teachers all over the country.
“ACT has done nothing illegal and it should not be red-tagged or become the target of black propaganda because what we are asking from the government is the substantial salary increase and for our teachers to live a decent life,” Tabacon said.— With reports from Jigger Jerusalem,Ken Cagula (davaotoday.com)