Benjamin Diokno hit over teachersâ pay raise

Diokno said last Wednesday that doubling the salary of public school teachers is not the priority of the government since there are still two years to go for the salary standardization law.


Benjamin Diokno hit over teachers’ pay raise

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2018 - 12:10am

MANILA, Philippines — An official of a teachers’ organization yesterday slammed Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno following his statement that the increase in the salary of teachers is not a priority of the government.

Benjo Basas, chairman of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, said Diokno should follow the order of President Duterte to study ways to double the salary of teachers.

“That is a presidential directive,” he told The STAR. “We are not saying that the increase should happen now. What they should do is study it and find ways to implement it.”

Diokno said last Wednesday that doubling the salary of public school teachers is not the priority of the government since there are still two years to go for the salary standardization law.

“False. It deserves no further comment. Remember I’m a professor emeritus,” Diokno said.

He made the remarks after Malacañang announced Duterte’s directive for Cabinet officials to find ways to double the salary of public school teachers following similar pay increases for the police and the military.

“That is not our priority at this time. Our priority is the BBB (Build, Build, Build) and the social protection (programs),” Diokno was quoted as saying.

According to Basas, Diokno’s statement contradicts the intention of Duterte to double the salary of public school teachers.

“It undermines the value and dignity of the teaching profession and the everyday sacrifices of our teachers who patiently waited for this promised salary increase,” he said.

Basas also disputed the claim of the budget secretary that the salary of teachers already increased by up to 16 percent, saying the pay for entry-level positions will only have a total increase of 12 percent from the rate in 2012.

Department of Education support

Meanwhile, Basas also urged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to support the teachers in their calls for pay increase.

“Her voice would be instrumental in convincing lawmakers to act favorably on our demand,” he said.

Briones earlier said that she is not against the salary increase for teachers, but noted the need to fully study the proposal as it would cost the government an additional P350 billion per year.

Diokno’s estimate is higher at around P500 billion to fund the proposed increase.

Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that there are 687,229 public school teachers, 10,917 non-teaching personnel and 46,379 teaching-related personnel.

Earlier, DepEd said the take-home pay of teachers has increased by about 16 percent from last year with the implementation of the new tax reform law.

It noted that entry-level public school teachers with Salary Grade 11 used to take home P17,220.86 per month including their personnel economic relief allowance (PERA).

With the new adjustments, the same teachers will receive a net take-home pay of P20,012.89 (including PERA) starting this month.

The agency also noted the increase in the annual chalk allowance received by teachers, from P2,500 to P3,500. This is allotted for the purchase of chalk, erasers and other classroom supplies and materials.

The clothing allowance of teachers also increased from P5,000 to P6,000, according to DepEd.

Diokno, teachers’ enemy

Rep. France Castro of the party-list group Alliance of Concerned Teachers that represents thousands of public school teachers yesterday called Diokno their “Enemy No. 1” for being pathologically anti-teacher.

“He has consistently opposed proposals for the increase of benefits and salaries of teachers,” she said.

She said Diokno’s latest anti-teacher statement is his declaration that a salary adjustment for teachers “is not a priority” despite President Duterte’s announcement that he wanted such an increase for teaching personnel in public schools.

Castro’s House colleagues Reps. Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur and Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol supported the President’s announcement.

“With the higher revenue take from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, the government will have fiscal space to fund a salary increase for teachers,” Villafuerte, an appropriations committee vice chairman, said.

He said teachers “deserve a pay hike, in the same way that our men and women in uniform have been given their salary upgrade, given the key role they play in human capital development, which is a priority in President Duterte’s high and inclusive growth agenda.”

Batocabe said he supports the President’s salary increase plan for teachers.

“As a son of a teacher when the salary of a teacher was ridiculously low, this is cause for jubilation for all our teachers. Doubling their salary will certainly boost their morale and enhance the quality of education in the country,” he said.

Duterte made the announcement after he signed a joint Senate-House of Representatives resolution that fulfilled his oft-repeated promise to double the basic pay of soldiers and policemen.

Teachers hold Salary Grade 11, the same pay level as government nurses. Their entry-level monthly salary is about P21,000. The adjusted salary of soldiers and policemen is about P30,000.

In saying that a pay increase for teachers is not a priority, Diokno said an adjustment would cost taxpayers an additional P340 billion a year.

He said it was not good that a huge part of the national budget would be spent on salaries.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has said Duterte wanted to double salaries in public schools.

When Diokno claimed Roque erred, the latter admitted he just speculated. – Jess Diaz

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