Amid claims of both the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Education that public school teachers receive additional special benefits, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines revealed that it’s actually “gravely wanting especially with respect to RA 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers—with some being questionable at best, anomalous at worst.” The two agencies’ statement came in the light of the pay hike guarantee following the completion of DBM’s study on government salaries.
“In a bid to present the government’s paltry 21 percent pay hike as passable, DBM and DepEd has resorted yet again to misrepresenting teachers’ compensation and benefits, further exposing their lack of understanding of our grim economic and working conditions,” hit ACT national chairperson Joselyn Martinez.
Among the ‘special benefits’ received by teachers according to DepEd are their overload pay, chalk or teaching supplies allowance, special hardship allowance, and their proportional vacation pay. ACT argued, however, the severe shortages and problems with these.
“The ‘overload pay’ referred to here is actually only overtime pay, while our actual overload in terms of oversized classes and the non-teaching tasks we are forced to take on due to the severe lack in non-teaching staff remain uncompensated. The P3,500 teaching supplies allowance, meanwhile, only amounts to P17/day for SY 2019–2020 which consists of 203 school days; that hardly suffices for all the resources we must produce for the hundreds of students we handle which are meant to fill in the gaps and shortages in materials and supplies in our schools,” explained Martinez.
ACT added that these benefits essentially serve the purpose of covering for the lacking state resource allocation to education. The group additionally raised questions on the SHA and PVP of teachers.
“DBM has set the ceiling for the SHA at 25 percent of eligible teachers’ salary, when it should be the minimum according to Article 3 Sec. 19 of RA 4670. Not to mention how inaccessible this remains to be for most teachers. That alone is a grave injustice to teachers who go above and beyond just to provide education to youth in otherwise unreachable areas,” exposed Martinez.
The PVP, on the other hand, is an anomalous concept, a can of worms waiting to be opened—it is basically our salary for April and May which we are entitled to as regular government employees but has been twisted into a benefit, which gets deducted when we miss a school day just as we get a deduction for that particular month's salary, amounting to a double deduction. On top of this, we are denied sick and vacation leaves as PVP is also supposed to be its equivalent for teachers,” exposed Martinez.
These glaring issues with teachers’ benefits merit its own attention, continued ACT. However, the group emphasized the need to differentiate benefits from wages or salaries.
“Allowances and benefits serve specific purposes, whereas salaries supposedly allows us to meet the basic costs of living. Hence our urgent demand for teachers’ basic pay to be set at decent and livable standards,” said Martinez.
ACT continued to press for the government to grant P30,000 entry-level pay for public school teachers, P31,000 for college instructors, and for a national minimum wage of P16,000.