[Statement] Teachers deserve a salary with dignity -TDC

Statement of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC)
for the Senate Hearing on Salary Increase Proposals 
September 10, 2019

We are present here today to ask for the collective wisdom of the Senate as regards to our request for compensation and benefits for public school teachers and DepEd employees on top of the generic Salary Standardization Law (SSL). This advocacy reflects in several forms in this Chamber. And while we recognize all the bills that seek to augment the salaries of our public school teachers and government employees, we would like to particularly mention Senate Bill Number (SBN) 37 of Hon. Francis Pangilinan; SBN 70 of Hon. Pia Cayetano; SBN 104 of Hon. Juan Miguel Zubiri; and SBN 466 of Hon. Ralph Recto. These bills seek to provide for a P10, 000 additional compensation to all teachers and non-teaching personnel in basic education system, among other benefits. We fondly call it the “P10, 000 across-the-board bill.”

This proposal is the reference of the interviews and reactions from Education and Budget departments. This is also the basis of the promise made by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte when he became an official candidate for president with running mate former Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, the principal sponsor of the bill in 16th, 17th and 18th Congress.

Since year 2006 when the TDC was formed, we have consistently lobbied for the enactment of the Salary Upgrading Bill which has become a perennial proposal in both houses of Congress for more than two decades. The salary upgrading bill seeks to raise the entry-level position of public school teachers under the Salary Standardization Law-1 (RA 6758) from Salary Grade (SG) 10 to a higher status, some proponents put it to as high as SG 21. The Salary Upgrading Proposal is consistent with the findings and recommendations of the 1991 joint report of education committees of both houses. However, fear of wage distortion and disparity- because the entry-level position of teachers might become higher than other positions like government physicians, lawyers or even college professors prevented the bill from enactment.

We have achieved a breakthrough in year 2008, when the Senate Committees on Education, Finance and Government Service took a decisive step to tackle several versions of said bill filed before the chamber. The majority of senators approved a consolidated version, the Senate Bill 2408 or An Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education. The bill seeks to augment the teachers’ salaries by providing for a P9, 000 additional compensation to be divided in three tranches, A Magna Carta Bonus in recognition of the long-forgotten law, medical allowance and remuneration from the local government units (LGUs) among other benefits. The bill eventually gained support in the lower house, several versions were filed.

On September 29, 2008, the TDC led more than 5, 000 teachers to the House of Representatives to press for the passage of the bill. We also submitted to the then House Speaker Prospero Nograles copies of the petition signed by more than 100, 000 teachers as well as resolutions from local legislative bodies in support of the bill.

That September 29 mobilization was the biggest in the recent history of teachers’ movement and a proof that the government failed to address the economic needs of its teachers. Mass actions and protests continued until early June 2009, however, Congress on June 17, 2009 or more than ten years ago, approved the Joint Resolution No. 4 or the Salary Standardization Law-3 (SSL-3). While we are thankful and appreciative for the law which provided a salary increase not just for teachers but for all the government employees from period 2009 to 2012, it is unfortunate that this law does not rectify the errors of SSL-1 of 1989, particularly the supposed improvement on the status of teachers under the new salary scale. The SSL-3, in fact have perpetuated the poor status of our teachers and pegged the entry-level position of teachers in SG 11, a notch higher than the SSL-1 the lowest among the government professionals.

Until this very moment, the current administration, has not initiated any legislated salary increase for teachers and civilian employees of the government. What it gave us is meager salary adjustments of a little higher than P500.00 based on the extended SSL thru EO 201 signed by former president Aquino. President Duterte however declared that a new SSL is on its way, we won’t oppose, in fact we will acknowledge such move for it proves that the government recognizes the need for salary increase for all the state workers. But we will still remind him of his promise to teachers, and the promise is not just this SSL.

The four abovementioned bills and six (6) other bills for salary upgrading that have been submitted in the Senate are indications that our good senators want substantial salary increase for our teachers, beyond this SSL. If the 18th Congress will base the salary increase of our teachers in an obsolete law that is SSL, it would be a party for the perpetuation of the scheme which is unjust and discriminatory.

We appeal to the honorable members of this Chamber to consider the P10, 000 across-the-board increase which is lower than what the government granted to the uniformed personnel last year. If the government was able to raise the entry-level salaries of military and uniformed personnel by 100 percent, there is no reason to leave our teachers behind.

September 5 to October 5 is officially declared as National Teachers’ Month (NTM) in the Philippines, the whole month is dedicated to celebrate the heroism, selflessness and sacrifices of our teachers. We have had enough of praises, plaques and flowers. Discounted books, fares, buffets, rides and yes, even funeral services are appreciated. But teachers deserve more. We deserve our dignity.

Benjo Basas, National Chairperson

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