Sorry, no funding
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - January 12, 2018 - 12:00am

Before teachers of public schools and state universities start rejoicing over the recent announcement of President Duterte that he would like to double their salaries as well, they should first listen to his budget secretary. According to Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno, doubling teacher’s salaries is currently not a priority of the government. It would have to take a “backseat to more pressing programs needed to be funded, including the ambitious ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure rollout.” Diokno adds that half a trillion pesos would be needed for the 600,000 public school teachers across the land. That’s P500 billion, in case a trillion is just too foreign a concept.

There is no funding for such an increase, contrary to Duterte’s statement that the funds can come from the second phase of the administration’s tax reform package. However, the second phase is supposedly revenue-neutral. In other words, there are no available funds from which the government can utilize and spend on something else other than what is already programmed. Diokno said he will talk to the president about the situation. I wonder how the president will feel. After all, he already made an announcement.

Not all is lost, however. Teachers will still get an increase based on the law signed by former president Aquino in 2016. They will get their third tranche this year. It may not be double, but it is still an increase. Diokno also adds that teachers of public schools already have higher wages than those in private schools. I wonder if that is true across the board.

It’s not the first time that Diokno expressed reservations about funding a promise of the president. The funding for the increase in SSS pensioners was also something they had to figure out. In the end, a compromise of sorts was made, but not after announcing that members would have to shell out more. A 12.5-percent increase in member contribution is scheduled for this month, specifically to help fund the pension of retirees. The pension of retired soldiers was also something of a headache, but I’m sure they will come up with a solution for that one.

There are those who will get a hundred percent increase in their wages. Rookie policemen, or those with a rank of Police Officer 1, will get a doubling of their salary as promised to them by the president. Other higher-ranking policemen will also get an increase, but based on the same law that former president Aquino signed. At least that’s what they are saying. We all know just how important the PNP and the military are to President Duterte, which is why they were the first to enjoy a 100-percent increase. I wonder how Sec. Diokno was able to pull that off.

According to PNP chief Gen. Dela Rosa, an increase in salary would boost morale of the police, and naturally they are expected to perform their duties better. And where have the police been very successful at this past year and a half? What is the body count again? Does a doubling of their salary also mean a doubling of the body count? I hope not, although Mandaluyong comes to mind.

 

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