President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that he is willing to strike a deal with public school teachers to increase their pay.
In his address to teachers at the groundbreaking of the Gen. Gregorio del Pilar National High School in Bulakan, Bulacan, Duterte said he is already discussing the possibility of increasing the teachers’ salary with Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
“I am willing to strike a deal in the presence of Secretary Leonor Briones with the teachers. You can choose the date, January, just make it fast. Then we can make even an agreement or manifesto or choose whatever kind of document itself. Kayo ang isusunod ko this year [You will be next to receive a salary increase this year],” he said.
The President said he is willing to talk to representatives of teachers but not the Leftist ones.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier echoed the Philippine National Police’s remark, which noted that the Alliance of Concerned Teachers has long been identified with the Left.
Duterte said the salary increase of uniformed personnel came first due to budget constraints and the peace and order situation in the country but vowed to prioritize the teachers’ pay hike next.
“Inuna ko ‘yung sundalo because alam ko kung ano ang mangyari. We were able—nasilip ko na ang future and it would cost lives at marami ditong mamamatay. Inunahan ko na sila. Long before nangyari ‘yan—hindi ko lang sinabi. Alam ko na ang Intelligence the way we were picturing it, puputok ‘to. Pumutok nga. Kaya medyo ipit ako, Ma’am. (I prioritized the soldiers’ pay hike because I know what will happen. I saw the future and it would cost lives. I had to act first. I just did not divulge it. The intelligence community, the way we were picturing it is that something would happen, and something indeed happened. Which is why I was caught in between, Ma’am),” he said.
Diokno, meanwhile, said all government employees are set to receive salary increases in 2019 but Congress needs to approve the national budget first.
“All government employees will get an increase in pay, but it has to wait for the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act. DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has initiated a study for the increase in compensation for government workers from 2020 to 2022,” Diokno said in a message to reporters Thursday.
In January 2018, Duterte signed a joint resolution increasing the base pay of the military and police.
Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara believes President Duterte ’s announcement that he would increase the salary of public school teachers across the country would attract more qualified and competent educators to teach in public schools.
“Our teachers are considered to be the heart of the educational system. The government needs to give priority to their welfare and interests,” said Angara.
“Definitely, this would lead to an improvement in the quality of education in our public school system,” he said.
He expressed hopes that the pay adjustment would be equivalent or close to the rate he has been pushing since 2016.
“We are happy that we’re in the same boat with the President in terms of providing our public school teachers a salary that is commensurate to their value to our society,” Angara said.
President Duterte had renewed his promise on Thursday to increase the take-home pay of public school teachers, saying it could finally happen in 2019, but did not mention how much would be the increase but it was definitely on top of the fourth and last tranche
of salary increases for all government workers to be implemented this year.
Last year, the President also vowed to raise the salary of teachers after the basic pay of the military and the police were doubled.
Sen. Bam Aquino issued this call to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), saying the agency can tap the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) to finance the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law in January 2019.
He said there was no reason for the DBM not to release the salary increase, which can help government employees deal with the prevailing high prices of food and other goods.
He added that he would file a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that DBM can disburse the MPBF for the salary increase of government workers.
According to Aquino, the 2018 re-enacted budget provides for an MPBF, which can be used to fund authorized personnel and benefit items, including pay increases.