'Benefits, not platitudes:' Teachers demand real support during National Teachers’ Month

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
'Benefits, not platitudes:' Teachers demand real support during National Teachers� Month
In January 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to increase the pay of teachers.
The STAR / Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — A group of educators on Tuesday called on public officials to ditch the “empty” praises during National Teachers’ Month and instead deliver teachers’ long-overdue benefits mandated by law.

Tuesday (September 5) marks the start of the annual month-long celebration of National Teachers’ Month which will culminate on October 5.  

This year’s celebration — themed “Together4Teachers” — aims to honor Filipino teachers “who are partners in building a patriotic and child-friendly nation,” according to a press release from the office of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

“As always, expect an oversupply of platitudes from ghostwriters paid for by politicians using taxpayers’ money. Elected officials never miss opportunities like this to have their names ringing in our ears, enough to last till the next election,” Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) Chairperson Benjo Basas said.

“We are going to hear, yet again, sweet words praising teachers for their sacrifices and heroic deeds,” the TDC chairperson said.

Basas pointed out that benefits mandated by the 50-year-old Magna Carta for Public School, such as staggered pay increases and a 60-day rest period between school years, has yet to be implemented in full.

“In the meantime, teachers’ long-overdue salary increases remain a dangling carrot at the end of a stick, with no hope of getting serious attention as they slice the pie called the education budget,” Basas said. 

“Teachers’ health benefits are no closer to lawmakers’ minds than they were over half a century ago, when a few good men birthed the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers,” he added.

The teachers’ group added that while it appreciates the celebration of the teachers’ month as it “reminds us of the nobleness of the teaching profession,” the government must also invest in teachers to ensure a robust nation.

Magna carta for teachers 

During the Department of Education's budget briefing last week at the House, DepEd Undersecretary Gloria Jumamil-Mercado said that the department would support teachers' request for pay increases if backed by empirical evidence. 

This came after Duterte said that Marcos administration is exploring long-term pay increases for public school teachers.

In 2022, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said that DepEd is non-compliant with the following sections of the Magna Carta:

  • Section 22, which states that public school teachers are entitled to free annual physical examinations
  • Section 26 which provides that a retiring teacher should be promoted one rank higher and the salary of that rank should be the basis of computation for retirement benefits.

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