Teachers’ coalition to 2016 poll bets: Bar salary hike bill passage or lose votes

Kristine B. Quintas/NSA (The Freeman) - December 10, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC)-Visayas has challenged presidential, vice presidential and senatorial aspirants to block the passage of the proposed House Bill 6268 or the Salary Standardization Law 2015, otherwise they will be losing votes in next year’s polls.

This as TDC slammed the move of the House of Representatives approving on third and final reading the proposed Salary Standardization Law of 2015 (SSL 2015) on Wednesday. 

With a vote of 170-5 and one abstention, the lower chamber finally approved House Bill 6268 just a month after it was approved on second reading on Nov. 11. 

“If they want to be elected, they have to bar and not support the passage of the bill,” Anabelle dela Cerna, TDC vice chairwoman for the Visayas, told The Freeman. 

“The political aspirants should prove to us that they are worthy of our votes and that they care about us teachers. Please give us consideration,” she said. 

Dela Cerna said legislators and government officials have to recognize the nobility of the teaching profession, which she said does not show in the proposed salary hike. 

TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas, in a statement, also called on the candidates who are now sitting as members of the Senate like Senator Miriam Santiago and Senator Grace Poe, both running for president, and Senators Alan Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Bongbong Marcos and Sonny Trillanes, who are all running for the second top post, to hear the sentiments of the teachers. 

 “If they wanted to rule the country, they have to first recognize the value of education and the nobility of teaching profession. If they believe that teaching is the noblest of all professions, then we deserve better salaries. We just hope that they will treat us better than the insensitive Aquino administration,” Basas said.

“This is the best time to repair the erroneous compensation scheme for teachers. Past and present salary laws classified teachers as among the lowest paid government professionals,” he added while pointing out that Congress, through a joint recommendation in 1991 and a bill approved by Senate in 2008, agreed that there was indeed an injustice and that error should be rectified. 

Dela Cerna recalled that TDC officials last month met with Poe, Cayetano, Senator Teofisto Guingona and other senators appealing to reject the SSL 2015. 

She said the officials listened but did not commit to either pass or junk the bill, adding “we are still hopeful that they will heed our appeal.” 

Dela Cerna said if the bill reaches the Senate and passed into law, teachers would only be getting a “measly” salary increase of P24 per day.

Basas agreed citing the entry-level position of teachers who will receive an additional amount of P2,205 from the present P18,549 or a meager increase of less than 12 percent, a drop of 33 percent from the previous legislated increase under the Arroyo administration which granted the teachers an amount of P6,523 increase or 54 percent from their salary under SSL-1. 

He said the P2,205, just like in the past will be spread over a period of four years, thus an annual increase of a little more than P500, the lowest in recent history. 

“We were hurt by this proposal. It’s like we were treated as beggars and not as teachers. We were made to wait for five years for this salary increase that would supposedly boost our morale, yet they gave us some kind of an insult,” said Basas.

TDC has 30,000 members all over the country. 

Antonia Lim, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in Central Visayas, was also dismayed over the decision of the lower house. She said they are still pushing for an increase for the existing minimum teacher’s salaries of an additional P6,451 per month or from P18,549 to P25,000 per month.

The SSL 2015 standardizes the salary increases of government workers in four tranches from 2016 to 2019. This will take effect from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2019.

House Bill 6268 mandates a four-year P226-billion compensation increase for the national government’s 1.53 million civilian and military uniformed personnel.

The House proposal prepared by the DBM and approved by Malacañang will only provide for a 23 percentincrease for the lowest position in government, the Laborer 1 at Salary Grade 1 or an increase of P2,068 from present P9, 000 to P11, 068.

While for cabinet members, senators, House members, vice president and the president, the increase will reach more than 150 percent. In particular, the president’s salary at SG-33, the highest, will receive an increase of 223 percent or an additional P268,096 from its present amount of P120,000.

It was principally authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who said the approval shows the seriousness and determination of House members to help improve the plight of government servants by updating their compensation and position classification system to make their pay competitive with the market rates and the private sector.  (FREEMAN)



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