Government hiring 142,000 teachers, health workers
(The Philippine Star) - August 10, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government is hiring nearly 142,000 public school teachers and health workers this year and next year, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said yesterday.

He told the House appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab that there is P8.9 billion in this year’s budget for the recruitment of 40,320 new teachers and P13.5 billion next year for an additional 62,320, for a total of 102,320 teaching personnel.

The proposed P3.002-trillion national budget also allocates P61.8 billion for 43,000 new classrooms, P6.8 billion for computerization projects, P21.2 billion for assistance to students and teachers in private education and P4.2 billion for textbooks and instructional materials.

The DBM has proposed a more than P111-billion increase in the budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) next year.

Based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted to Congress, the DBM proposed a budget of P430.729 billion for DepEd next year, up from the current P319.231 billion.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the huge increase was in preparation for the implementation of the K-to-12 program.

The STAR reviewed the latest NEP and compared it with the 2015 General Appropriations Act, the budget approved by Congress and President Aquino for the current year.

Based on budget documents, DepEd will receive increases in personnel services, maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlays.

P19.3 B for new positions

On personal services, DBM proposed a budget of P19.322 billion for creation of new positions. No such line item was present in the previous year.

According to Luistro, this includes budget for the creation of items for teaching and non-teaching personnel for senior high school.

DepEd Assistant Secretary for programs and projects Elvin Uy said they proposed a budget for 43,000 teaching items even as DepEd only projects a need for 30,000 new teachers next year. “That’s in case we have a huge enrolment,” he said.

Uy said the budget proposal also includes funding for the creation of at least 6,000 non-teaching personnel for senior high schools.

The bulk of the increase in the maintenance and other operating expenses is in the financial assistance and subsidy line item.

From this year’s P16.031-billion budget, it has ballooned to P28.782 billion in the proposed budget next year.

Uy said the budget for financial subsidy is divided into three: ‘education service contracting’ that subsidizes the cost of tuition of students enrolled in private junior high school; subsidy for madaris or Muslim private schools; and for the voucher system for senior high school.

The increase in the budget for financial subsidy is due to the first year of implementation of the voucher system for senior high school, which will subsidize the tuition of public Grade 10 graduates who will choose to enroll in private senior high schools.

On capital outlay, the DBM proposed a budget of P80.067 billion for buildings and other structures, up from this year’s P54.274-billion budget.

On the other hand, DBM decreased the budget proposal for land outlay from this year’s P400 million to P65 million next year.

Another P3.439 billion is allotted for furniture, fixtures and books outlay, up from the current P1.246 billion.

Luistro said the budget for school buildings would be for the construction of some 43,000 classrooms for Grade 12 students in June 2017.

He said the budget for Grade 11 classrooms is already included in the 2014 and 2015 budgets.

Reacting to criticisms that DepEd failed to utilize all of its budget allocations in the previous years, Luistro said it takes time to finish big projects like school buildings.

He noted that construction of a four-storey building lasts at least nine months, and that it would be impossible to have finished all projects within the current year as there are bidding and other procedures to follow.

He maintained that the government is on track in its building projects and that it would make sure that all teacher items for senior high school are filled before the start of classes in June 2016.

Health sector hiring

In the health sector, Abad said that for this year, the government is hiring 13,500 nurses, 398 doctors, 3,100 midwives, 214 dentists, 787 public health workers and 308 medical technologists.

For 2016, he said an additional 15,727 nurses would be hired, plus 946 doctors, 3,100 midwives, 324 dentists, 713 public health workers and 308 medical technologists.

He added that P3.3 billion would be allocated for family health and responsible parenting programs, P1.1 billion for tuberculosis control and P793 million for treatment of public health diseases.

Rep. Leah Paquiz of party-list Ang NARS appealed to Abad to raise the salary level of nurses in government hospitals from Salary Grade 11 (about P18,000 a month) to 15 (P25,000) as mandated by the Philippine Nurses Act of 2002.

She said a special law like the one Congress had enacted for nurses should prevail over general legislation like the Salary Standardization Law for government personnel.

ABAD ACIRC ASSISTANT SECRETARY BILLION BUDGET BUDGET SECRETARY FLORENCIO ABAD CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT AQUINO DAVAO CITY REP LUISTRO SCHOOL YEAR
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