By Mayvelin U Caraballo/Manila Times
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno put his foot down on calls to increase the salary of public school teachers, saying it was not among the priorities of the government.
“The salaries alone of the teachers will take up a half a trillion. The doubling of the salary of teachers is not our priority at this time. Our priority is the ‘Build Build Build’ and the social protection,” Diokno told reporters at a press briefing yesterday.
Diokno explained that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) preferred to finish first the implementation of the Salary Standardisation Law (SSL) 3 scheme, which mandates an increase in the basic salaries of government employees over four years.
“By the way there is still two years to go for the SSL. So I think the best time to see all the salary adjustment is after the SSL,” he said.
He said the DBM would also have to study all the salary classifications in the government and compare it with salaries in the private sector.
“What you don’t want to do is to see the entire budget as simply salaries because the government has other responsibilities. We don’t want the budget as simply salaries I don’t think Filipino taxpayers will like that,” Diokno said. On Tuesday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr said President Rodrigo Duterte was planning to increase the salaries of teachers to make their pay at par with the wages received by soldiers and policemen.
Despite the DBM’s stance, the Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday welcomed the plan to increase the salaries of public school teachers.
“We’re very eager to wait for the next step to be done, to make this happen,” DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali told Manila Times.
A teachers’ group also welcomed Malacanang’s pronouncement that the president was planning to double the entry-level salary of public school teachers.
“We welcome this statement from Malacanang and we hope that the president will use his influence and power to make this statement a reality,” Benjo Basas, national chairman of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, said.
The coalition has been pushing for the enactment of the bill that would grant a P10,000 across-the-board increase in salaries of government teachers, among other benefits.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon yesterday said government health personnel and public lawyers also deserved salary increases as he raised the need to address “wage distortion” in the government sector.
The senator said a review of the current pay structure was “necessary to avoid demoralisation among civilian employees.”
“Today a Teacher 1 receives P21,000 while a policeman receives P40,000. Shouldn’t the teacher, shouldn’t the health worker, shouldn’t the entry-level lawyer in the Department of Justice be the same with everybody?” he said.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said all public school teachers would receive an additional P1,000 in their cash or chalk allowance this year.
Drilon called on the House of Representatives to adopt Senate Resolution 575, which tasks the DBM to “recompute and readjust” the base pay of civilian personnel below and above salary grade 11, to ensure that the compensation of civilian personnel would be proportional to that of their military and uniformed personnel counterparts.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday welcomed President Duterte’s signing of Joint Resolution 01 which increases the base pay of military and police in the government.
“Our soldiers are grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and President Rodrigo Duterte for his recognition of the sacrifices and the hazards the military service entails and his concern for the welfare of uniformed members of the AFP and their families,” Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said in a statement.
“We understand the prevailing economic realities that have been considered in the crafting of the pay schedule,” he added.
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