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The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) are hoping that the planned dialogue with Vice President -elect and incoming Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio will help address the issues and problems experienced by teachers as well as the actual situation of basic education in the country.

“Incoming VP and DepEd (Department of Education) Secretary Sara Duterte Carpio has expressed her intention of addressing the effects of the pandemic to our learners, and discussing the K-12 program. Our teachers are in the best position to give her ground reports and an honest assessment of the situation. ACT is ready to sit with her to discuss these problems and propose solutions to the current learning crisis, as well as reviewing the K-12 program,” said Vladimer Quetua. The date of the dialogue is still to be set

“We advise her not to repeat the mistake of current Education Secretary Leonor ‘Liling’ Briones who has not once faced ACT and our accredited unions in a dialogue despite our countless requests. Sans the democratic consultations, the current DepEd leadership has gone out of touch with the ground realities and has formulated policies that are unrealistic and have further burdened teachers and learners,” he added. 

He stressed that only through a “more democratic and consultative” style of leadership will the incoming DepEd chief succeeds in her post. 

Earlier the group critized Duterte Carpio’s pronouncements pushing for the revival of the military training among students through the Reserved Officer Training Corp (ROTC). 

Meanwhile, TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas said they will ask the incoming DepEd chief to tackle the teachers’ long overdue demand for salary hike. 

“What we ask is beyond increase in our salaries, it’s about rectifying the decades-old mistake of the government,” Basas said, adding this will be the TDC’s first agenda in a dialogue with Duterte-Carpio.

Basas explained that teachers’ salaries should be based on the recommendations of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670), enacted to institutionalize and further protect the rights and welfare of teachers. 

Section 15 of the said law provides for criteria for salaries and mandates that the pay for teachers shall compare favorably with those paid in other occupations requiring equivalent or similar qualifications, training and abilities and provide a reasonable standard of life for teachers and their families. 

However, the law that currently governs the salaries of teachers is the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 1989 and its latest version, RA 11466 or the SSL-5 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in January 2020. 

“While we appreciate the previous salary adjustments under the SSLs, we could not help but express our frustration for the very small amount of salary increases which are divided in several tranches, a tradition under the SSL scheme.” Basas added. 

The group, since the 15th Congress has been lobbying for a P10,000 across-the-board increase for public education workers, an amount which according to Basas would be reasonable enough because it would benefit all the teachers and employees regardless of their position. 

“Teachers and government employees suffered low pay and limited benefits since 1989 when the salary SSL was first implemented. This unjust and discriminatory scheme should be ended. It only perpetuated our poor condition and low chances for socio-economic improvement.” Basas further said. 

He said that if the government would use the recommendations under RA 4670, teachers’ salaries would be placed in higher positions in the salary scale. 

Basas added that the salaries of teachers under the SSL law were pegged in low bracket despite having their own special law. 

Salaries of most of the low-ranking military and uniformed personnel have been doubled in 2018, while government nurses’ entry-level pay had an P11, 000-hike two years ago following the Supreme Court decision recognizing that the nurses’ position should be at Salary Grade 15, which currently has an equivalent of P35, 097. 

On the other hand, the lowest teacher position-Salary Grade 11- meant only a P25, 439 gross monthly salary.  

Image credits: Manuel T. Cayon