Amidst the on-going hostage crisis in Agusan, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) reminds DepEd of its obligation to pay hardship allowance to teachers in conflict areas. According to the group, the secretary of education is tasked by RA 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers to determine the areas where teachers are exposed to hardships and provide an allowance equivalent to 25% of their basic pay.
Benjo Basas, a Caloocan City teacher and the group’s chairperson says “the law is a 1966 vintage, yet the implementing guidelines were promulgated only in December 2007.” The guidelines, which were released by the DBM through National Budget Circular 514, specifically identifies the presence of armed conflict in work area as one of the hazard posts and thereby entitles the teachers and school personnel a special hardship allowance.
“But even that is not an assurance that teachers in the so-called areas of armed conflict enjoy this privilege. In most cases, this not implemented.” Basas added.
The Agusan crisis is the fifth major abduction case involving teachers since year 2009 in Mindanao alone. Three teachers from Zamboanga City were kidnapped in January and another three were also kidnapped in March. In November of the same year, a Sulu principal was kidnapped and later beheaded by his kidnappers. And in December 2009, 75 people, including teachers were also being held hostage in Agusan Sur by armed men lead by Ondo Perez. Perez is a relative of the perpetrators of the current kidnapping whose demand is his freedom from jail.
“No doubt, teachers are exposed in hardships and hazards in these areas and therefore must be properly compensated.” Basas continued quoting Prosperidad Mayor Alvin Magdamit who earlier said “This is tragic because these are lowly paid teachers who are being held.”
Basas said that teachers might refuse to be assigned in those areas, because aside from a very minimal compensation, they fear for their safety, “such scenario would lead to failure to deliver the basic right of Filipino children to education.”
The group also quoted Secretary Luistro’s earlier statement that says “it is very disturbing that teachers who offer their lives for the community always fall victims to these crimes.”
TDC challenges the DepEd to start the inventory of all those who may possibly be qualified for the special hardship allowances.
Aside from the additional compensation, Basas reiterates his group’s demand of providing more security forces in the vicinity of schools. The group argued that the presence of law enforcers alone would deter the criminal activities of groups in the area.
“We pray that this Agusan incident will end peacefully very soon and we hope that this will be the last.” Basas ended. #
For details: Benjo Basas, 0920-5740241/385-3437 www.teachersdignity.com
- [In the web] Teachers ask Malacanang to intervene in Agusan hostage crisis, demand for more security in schools- teachersdignity.com (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- Sarangani gets 133 teacher slots, more funds from DepEd (southernpost.wordpress.com)
- Gunmen in South Philippines Kidnap 16, Set Demands (abcnews.go.com)
- Filipino gunmen send 2 of 16 hostages to get food (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Prisoner released to help free Filipino hostages (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Jailed Leader Released in Bid to Free Filipino Hostages (foxnews.com)
- You: Suspected crime gang in southern Philippines kidnaps 16 teachers and students, sets demands (washingtonpost.com)