[Press Release] Increase in salaries, first agenda of teachers to incoming VP and DEPED Secertary Inday Sara Duterte | TDC

Increase in salaries, first agenda of teachers to incoming VP and DEPED Secertary Inday Sara Duterte

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) hopes to engage the incoming Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Vice President-elect Sara Duterte in a discussion to tackle the teachers’ long overdue demand for salary increase.

“What we ask is beyond increase in our salaries, it’s about rectifying the decades-old mistake of the government,” said Benjo Basas, a Caloocan City teacher and the group’s national chairperson.

Basas argued that teachers’ salaries should be based on the recommendations of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670), a 1966 vintage law created to institutionalize and further protect the rights and welfare of teachers. However, the law that currently governs the salaries of teachers is the salary standardization law (SSL) of 1989 and its latest version, RA 11466 or the SSL-5 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in January 2020.

“While we appreciate the previous salary adjustments under the SSLs, we could not help but express our frustration for the very small amount of salary increases which are divided in several tranches, a tradition under the SSL scheme.” Basas continued.

The group, since the 15th Congress has been lobbying for a P10,000 across-the-board increase for public education workers, an amount which according to then would be reasonable enough because it would benefit all the teachers and employees regardless of their position.

“Teachers and government employees suffered low pay and limited benefits since 1989 when the salary SSL was first implemented. This unjust and discriminatory scheme should be ended. It only perpetuated our poor condition and low chances for socio-economic improvement.” Basas added.

The TDC argued that the government should use the recommendations under Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) that says teachers’ salaries should be placed in higher positions in the salary scale. And while other government personnel have their own salary scheme like those in the government own and controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions (GFIs) and military and uniformed personnel (MUP) as well as government nurses, teachers’ salaries were pegged in low bracket under SSL despite having their own special law. Salaries of most of the low-ranking military and uniformed personnel have been doubled in 2018, while government nurses’ entry-level pay had an P11, 000-hike two years ago following the recent Supreme Court decision recognizing that the nurses’ position should be at Salary Grade 15 (SG-15) which currently has an equivalent of P35, 097.

“The upgrading of teachers’ entry-level position to at least SG-15 or an outright additional P10, 000 for all the Department of Education (DepEd) employees that should be over and above the SSL would at least put our salaries at par with other professionals in the government service,” Basas explained.

“Lagi naming naririnig yung ‘teaching is the noblest of all professions’ pero ang suweldo namin ang pinakamababa sa lahat ng mga propesyunal sa gobyerno,” he added emphasizing the teachers’ current position, SG-11 is among the lowest in government professionals under the same law with an equivalent of only P25, 439.

The SSL, Basas furthered “does not reflect the letters and intentions of Article XIV, Section 5 (5) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that says: ‘The state shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.’ This constitutional provision is made for us, teachers.”

The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) mandates the protection of rights of its teachers as well as promotion of their economic welfare. Section 15 of the said law even provides for criteria for salaries and mandates that the pay for teachers shall compare favorably with those paid in other occupations requiring equivalent or similar qualifications, training and abilities and provide a reasonable standard of life for teachers and their families.

However, during President Cory Aquino’s time, the government enacted the first salary, the SSL 1 (RA 6758) and pegged the position of public school teachers to Salary Grade 10. In 1991, the joint education committee of Congress (EDCOM) recommended that teachers’ entry-level position be upgraded, teachers argued that it should be at least SG-16, in accordance to Magna Carta provision cited above. But due to the intricacies of legislative process and the popular counter-argument of wage disparity, teachers and allied lawmakers eventually settled for a special compensation adjustment amounting to P10, 000 over and above the SSL amount. The same principle was approved by the Senate in 2008. But Malacanang under the then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo preferred another SSL scheme and approved its own version (SSL-3) in year 2009, teachers’ position was indeed raised to Salary Grade 11, but still the lowest among the professionals. In 2016, President Noynoy Aquino ordered the adjustment of government employees’ salary thru the SSL 4 (EO 201). The teachers received a total of P2, 205 increase spread over a period of four years (2016 to 2019). Finally, President Duterte’s legislation of SSL-5 which gives our teachers a total of P6, 2 46 divided in four tranches from 2020 up to next year.

“So obviously, since Cory Aquino’s administration when the SSL was enacted, the succeeding governments have violated this particular provision of the Magna Carta. Thus, president-elect Bong Bong Marcos and incoming secretary VP-elect Sara Duterte are in good position to rectify this error,” Basas added.

The current salary scheme according to Basas should also be reviewed and amended in favor of the teachers.

“If the VP-elect would grant our request for dialogue this is the first item that we will discuss with her,” Basas ended. #

For details:

Benjo Basas, National Chairperson

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