June 16, 2019
QUEZON CITY – ACT countered DepEd's claim that teachers are taken care of with the doubling of their salaries in 2 decades by raising the fact that salaries of cabinet members increased by 570% and the president’s basic pay by 606% since 2000.
DepEd Sec. Briones reportedly defended in a recent cabinet meeting that teachers are taken care of by presenting historical data on teachers' salaries and benefits.
“Sec. Briones forgot to mention that in the same period, salaries of top government officials increased 5 to 6 times. Now, whose welfare are truly taken care of?” asked Joselyn Martinez, ACT National Chairperson.
ACT study on government pay scheme since 2000 revealed that cabinet members pay rose from P38,500 in 2000 to P257,809 in 2019 while the president's salary increased from P55,000 in 2000 to P388,096 this year.
“Clearly the principle of equitable and sustainable pay is not reflected in the government salary scheme. The government is the foremost violator of the constitutionally mandated principle of social justice as the gap between rank-and file and top officials continue to widen, ' added Martinez.
Nothing special in doubled salaries in 20 years
Martinez lambasted DepEd for ‘deliberately obscuring the entire picture’ when the agency claimed that teachers’ salaries have doubled since 2000 while failing to mention its context, and the fact that all other salaries as well as the costs of living also rose to around the same rate.
“There is nothing special with the doubling of salaries in the span of two decades. Salaries of all workers have been chasing after the rising cost of living through the years but never managed to keep up,” said Martinez.
ACT cited that the 119% increase in teachers' pay since 2000 are approximately the same, if not lower than those received by minimum wage earners in the public and private sector.
The minimum wage in NCR rose by 140%, from P223.5 in 2000 to P537 at present. Salary Grade I government employees had 130% pay increase, from P4,821 to P11,068 this year.
ACT also belied Sec. Briones’ claim in ‘pushing for reforms and initiatives’ that allegedly resulted in improved benefits, citing that benefits received by teachers are largely the same as those received by other government employees such as the 13th and 14thmonth pay, and their clothing allowance.
The chalk allowance, ACT said, is a special benefit for teachers for having the distinct situation of needing to buy their own supplies needed in the performance of their duty. ACT also raised that even the benefits that are yet to be received by teachers such as the P500 medical allowance and P1,000 World Teachers’ Day (WTD) bonus are already mentioned by the secretary to make it appear that teachers are better off than other government employees.
“The grant of medical allowance is actually 50 years delayed since the 1966 Magna Carta provided for it, and now it hangs by a thread as the president placed it under conditional implementation. Even the WTD bonus is P500 short of the P1,500 amount promised by Sec. Briones last year,” Martinez explained.
The teachers’ federation further argued that it was the ‘uncompromising pursuit for better pay and benefits’ that gained teachers these rightful compensations.
“The government did not give these benefits out of their own will, these are hard won by teachers together with our partners in Congress, especially the ACT Teachers Partylist,” said Martinez.
ACT detailed that the increase in chalk allowance from P700 to its current amount of P3,500 was campaigned by teachers inside and outside the parliament. The same goes for the additional P2,000 in their uniform allowance and the newly included P500 annual medical allowance for teachers. These amendments were made possible by legislation principally authored and pushed for by ACT Teachers Partylist. Even the official celebration of World Teachers' Day (WTD) was a product of a law passed by ACT Teachers Partylist, which allowed for DepEd's recent move to provide a WTD bonus.
“The same resolve of teachers and partners who recognize the value of education will also win us our much-deserved salary increase,” declared Martinez.
‘Enough with the propaganda’
ACT urged DepEd to stop trying to ‘deodorize the government’ and instead work with teachers in fulfilling the overdue pay hike promise.
“The propaganda has to stop. More time should be spent on actually resolving the crisis in the pay of teachers and other rank-and-file employees, instead of on manipulating facts. Teachers are fighting for decent living and working condition, heed us instead of delegitimizing our struggle,” pressed Martinez.