Teachers rue ‘Krisismas Basket’
A group of public school teachers painted a bleak Christmas for its members, saying income loss and a controversial tax reform program had all but wiped out teachers’ income.
Leaders of party-list group ACT Teachers on Friday used the holidays as a theme to present their woes as “Krisismas Basket.”
Among the basket’s contents, the group said, were “GSIS Embu-tubo” referring to high loan interest rates, “DepEd Quezo Pambobola” referring to broken promises by the Department of Education, “All-Purpose Teacher Cream” referring to excessive work hours and “Hamon ng mga Guro” referring to teachers’ demand for better pay.
Rosario Bella Guzman, executive director of the research group Ibon Foundation, said public school teachers were “grossly underpaid.”
Guzman said that while the government increased budgets next year for infrastructure and the military (26 percent), public works (26 percent), the Department of Transportation and Communications (89 percent), defense (34 percent) and police (30 percent), it gave minimal increases in budgets for social welfare (2.2 percent), health (26 percent) and education (13 percent).
Guzman said inflation had already eroded whatever increases were made in 2016 on teachers’ salaries by Executive Order No. 201.
ACT Teachers said that as of October, teachers earning between P19,620 to P21,387 per month have lost between P5,529 to P6,476 of their incomes’ purchasing power.
Teachers’ salaries also fall short of the family living wage of around P23,579, Guzman said.
Riz Bantillan, a teacher at Villamor High School, said her family has to live on only P42 per day for food and other provisions.
Bantillan said teachers would even have to dip into their pockets for some classroom needs.
Teachers, she said, had no other choice but to apply for loans but the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) charges them 12-percent interest for dues.
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