POGOs eyed to fund teachers’ pay hike

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
POGOs eyed to fund teachers� pay hike
Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero and Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao yesterday said Congress could approve a bigger pay hike for teachers if there is an additional funding source.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Congressmen are eyeing the booming Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) industry to fund a bigger salary increase for 900,000 public school teachers.

Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero and Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao yesterday said Congress could approve a bigger pay hike for teachers if there is an additional funding source.

“I will support tapping POGOs as a source. They should pay taxes, which Congress could allocate for social services like education and for personnel benefits,” Romero, who represents party-list group 1-Pacman, said.

He and Siao are among scores of members of the House of Representatives who have filed bills to increase the monthly salary of teachers in the public sector from P20,754 to P30,000, or by almost P10,000.

The proposed new round of pay adjustment in the bureaucracy would give teachers an additional P6,246 over four years, from 2020 to 2023.

Siao said the P10,000 increase “is doable.” He estimated that P9 billion a month would be needed, which would translate to a total funding requirement of P126 billion a year, including the mandatory additional midyear benefit of one-month salary and another month as yearend bonus.

“Right now, the first sector I see that can be taxed heavily to generate the P126 billion annually is POGO. Taxing those POGOs to fund the P10,000 teachers’ pay hike clamor would be like hitting two birds with one stone or solving two problems at once,” he pointed out.

He would discuss his proposal, he added, with Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House of Representatives committee on ways and means.

POGOs are reportedly expanding so aggressively they are gobbling up available residential and office space, forcing rental prices up. They are even entering subdivisions that are classified as purely residential areas.
For instance, residents of posh Multinational Village in Parañaque have brought to the attention of President Duterte and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board the mushrooming of POGO buildings in their subdivision in violation of a city ordinance classifying it as a strictly residential community.

The residents said more structures are being built in their village and the city government is not doing anything about it because officials of the city, their barangay and their subdivision allowed the constructions.

“POGOs and their workers occupy these buildings. We are the nearest Parañaque village to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Entertainment City, hence the popularity of our subdivision to POGO Filipino partners. These are very financial rewarding projects for them,” they explained.

They said the POGO constructions are even a fire hazard, since they overload existing electrical lines whose capacity is good only for homes, adding that the POGO buildings have been occupied even without the necessary electrical and occupancy permits from city hall.

The residents asked Duterte to intervene, pointing out that inaction on the part of their local officials makes it appear that the government “is helpless in implementing the rule of law.”

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