COTABATO CITY - Officials have just enlisted 562 more “peace teachers” for assignments in far-flung areas in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces with a full imprimatur from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
John Magno, regional secretary of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Thursday said the new teachers received their appointments last Monday in a symbolic rite held at the regional government compound in Cotabato City.
“They were taken in with permission from the Comelec,” Magno said.
The Comelec ban on promotion of government employees and hiring of new personnel, in connection with the present election period, started March 25.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman had earlier enlisted hundreds of teachers for schools in Maguindanao also with clearance from the Comelec.
The ARMM government hired more than 2,000 duly licensed teachers in the past two years as part of an effort to professionalize and streamline the region’s education department, plagued in the past by “ghost teachers.”
“Those we hired earlier are now working. Those hired recently will start working as soon as classes resume. Some of them might possibly be given election duties too during the May 9 elections,” Magno said.
He said the newly-hired public school teachers will help educate children on the importance of cultural and interfaith solidarity among ARMM’s culturally and spiritually diverse Muslim, Christian and lumad groups.
“Only `good quality’ teachers were hired by the Hataman administration, after hurdling strict screening processes that include actual classroom teaching demonstrations,” Magno said.
The DepEd-ARMM had earlier received a special award from the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) in recognition of its having most registered members by regions, based on a P72 million remittance in membership dues, remitted on time to the group’s treasury.
The award was handed over to ARMM officials last April 20 during the commemoration of the PPSTA’s 69th anniversary in Quezon City.
“That award was enough `vote of confidence’ for us. A tacit indication that we are succeeding in reforming the bureaucracy in this department,” Magno said.
The DepEd-ARMM was touted as the most corrupt agency in the autonomous region before Hataman got to the helm of the regional government, first as appointed caretaker in December 2011 and, subsequently, as regional governor following his election to office on May 13, 2013.