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Teachers worry over 'conditional' benefits despite approved 2019 budget

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With the 2019 budget finally signed into law, teachers may soon be entitled to a Php500 annual medical allowance and Php1,000 World Teachers’ Day bonus. However, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed worry over the ‘conditional implementation’ of these benefits which the group says is ‘long overdue’ and only meets ‘the bare minimum of that which the law requires.’
Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement shortly after the signing of the budget on April 15 that teachers’ benefits, allowances, and the creation of teaching positions, among others, were placed under conditional implementation in order to ensure its conformity to existing laws, rules, and regulations.
“These benefits and allowances, while in itself can be considered a victory of teachers’ resounding call for new and better benefits, barely cover the entire entitlements of teachers as mandated by the 53 year old Magna Carta for Public School Teachers or RA 4670. For instance, RA 4670 states that teachers should enjoy free annual medical check up,” declared Joselyn Martinez.
Martinez added that with RA 4670 supported by certain provisions in the newly-signed General Appropriations Act of 2019, there should be no further impediment to the granting of teachers’ hard-won benefits.
“The challenge is now upon President Duterte to ensure that the GAA provision for teachers’ benefits be properly and promptly implemented, which is frankly the least he can do for us as we wait for him to deliver on his promise to increase our salaries,” pressed Martinez.
President Duterte first vowed to raise teachers’ salaries during his 2016 campaign and reiterated his promise over the past three years. In January, he announced a 2–3 month timeframe for its realization, but ACT said the administration has not taken any concrete measure to fulfill this.
Meanwhile, ACT welcomed the scrapping of the Php95 billion pork insertions to the budget, which is a direct result of efforts in and outside of Congress to expose and oppose pork. The group furthered that the money should go to addressing the various issues still confronting the budget. It pointed out that the 2019 budget is ‘far from perfect’ and continues to be riddled with anomaly. ACT says the 2019 GAA falls short in many respects including budget for basic services which suffered significant cuts, and overbudgeting for war, debt payment, ‘Build, Build, Build’, and for presidential discretionary fund.
“Ridding the GAA of congressional lump-sum only begins to scratch the surface of a highly problematic Php3.757 trillion budget program. There are so many more issues about the budget the needs immediate attention. We urge the President and other concerned agencies to address the shortages in resource allocation for the most pressing needs of the people such as decent wages, better benefits, access to free and quality social services, among others,” ended Martinez.
Source: Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)


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