Chiz to gov’t: Look for funds before raising teachers’ pay
Don’t get their hopes up, outgoing Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero cautioned the government, amid the appeal of public school teachers for a P10,000 raise to help them cope with the rising cost of living.
In a Senate forum on Thursday, Escudero said the Duterte administration must first look for possible sources of funding for the salary hike, which would cost P150 billion for all teachers.
“There are only four sources of funding—borrow, realign some items, increase taxes, or use savings, which is not that big and regular … It’s not that there’s no chance [of a wage hike], but where to get the funding?” he said.
Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on education, said the source of funding for the salary increase may be a combination of the four options.
It is also possible to craft a law increasing the pay of public school teachers, he added.
Escudero also backed the Department of Education (DepEd) in prioritizing the construction of classrooms over faculty rooms to address the current backlog that has adversely affected students.
Asked to comment on the viral photos of teachers using an old restroom as a faculty room at Bacoor National High School (BNHS) in Bacoor, Cavite, Escudero said it was the teachers’ decision to do so.
“For me, they could have used the classroom once classes were over. Our teachers have other options,” he said of the series of Facebook posts by BNHS faculty president Maricel Herrera that showed 11 teachers using toilet cubicles as a faculty room due to lack of space.
The viral photos have erupted into a bitter dispute between the DepEd and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the government-accredited teachers’ union.
DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua accused ACT of spreading “propaganda” meant to denigrate Education Secretary Leonor Briones and President Duterte. ACT, meanwhile, decried DepEd’s neglect and callousness toward teachers who, the group said, were only standing up for their rights.
Pascua said BNHS teachers were previously asked to vacate existing faculty rooms because these would be used as classrooms this school year.
When the teachers moved to the comfort room, Pascua accused them of having a “hidden agenda” to force Briones to resign and oust Mr. Duterte, an allegation that ACT firmly denied.
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