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Teachers slams approved pay hike bill

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A federation of teachers on Wednesday slammed the recent pay hike plan which got the nod of President Rodrigo Duterte – noting that this was “worse than what we feared.”

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed today the pay hike plan contained in the recently filed bill on salary increase for government workers by Senator Bong Revilla, which got the nod of President Duterte, saying that the amount and terms of increases is worse than the worst scenario that they expected.

Sen. Revilla, filed yesterday Senate Bill 1219 which proposes for about a total of 23% increase divided in four years, or roughly P1,500 hike in monthly salaries per year for 92% of public school teachers who occupy the positions Teacher I, II, and III. The pay hike plan is in accordance with the proposal of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and concurred by President Duterte himself.

“Not only are the amounts too small, it is spread out in more tranches that will even go beyond Pres. Duterte’s term, clearly the President is not keeping his words,” criticized Joselyn Martinez, ACT Philippines Chairperson.

Since the 2016 presidential campaign and in his first two years in office, Pres. Duterte has consistently promised to double the teachers’ salaries but downgraded his commitment in his last State of the Nation Address to an amount that will be ‘enough to tide them over.’

Martinez said that the proposed increase would not even translate to increased daily family budget as it will only be eaten up by income tax and impending increases in mandatory contributions. Upon the implementation of the salary increase, Teacher I will lose the income tax-exempted status that they have now. The Universal Health Care Act mandates the hiking of employees’ Philhealth contributions yearly, from 2.75% today to 4.5% in 2023.

“Paano kami matutulungan nitong makatawid sa pang-araw-araw gayung ‘ni hindi ito sasayad sa sikmura namin? Bigay-bawi ang sistema, they will be giving us crumbs which the government will only collect back,” explained Martinez.

Martinez further criticized the planned P500 increase in the monthly salaries of Salary Grade I employees, the same amount given by the past Aquino government under Executive Order 201.

“The Duterte government has propped up its image by capitalizing on the shortcomings of the past regime, but in fact it is no better, as far as increasing the government minimum wage is concerned,” said Martinez.

She asserted that the ‘stingy’ pay hike proposal ‘reflects the government’s lacking sincerity in improving the quality of service-delivery to the people, especially education which was found to be of dismal quality per the result of 2018 Program for International Student Assessment.

“Essential to improving government services is making sure that our frontliners are afforded decent standards of living. It is downright exploitative for our employer to press our teachers for quality education while it refuses to give us quality life,” lambasted Martinez.

Martinez said that the fate of teachers’ and government employees’ salary increase is a critical issue towards the 2022 national elections, noting that the 2.4 million civilian government workers, regularly-employed and under contracts, could easily translate to precious five million votes.

“Through continuing protest actions and through the ballot, we will register our great disappointment, no vote for those who fail on their promises or act as accomplices to it,” declared Martinez.

Martinez said that they will fight the ‘life-and-death’ issue in Congress as she shared that ACT poises for bigger protests next year.


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