Teachers’ benefits under 60-year-old law still ‘mere promises’ – Senate panel
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate committee has found the Department of Education (DepEd) non-compliant with some provisions of a 60-year-old law that are deemed “pivotal” benefits for teachers.
In its report, the Senate basic education committee pointed out that those unimplemented benefits under the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers “remain mere illusory promises up to now.”
During Tuesday’s plenary session, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian reported the findings of his committee’s inquiry into the DepEd’s compliance with the decades-old law.
According to Gatchalian, the DepEd was compliant with seven sections of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers and partially compliant with 18 additional provisions, but is non-compliant with three sections.
“The committee was also disappointed to learn that three pivotal benefits and privileges granted to public school teachers under the Magna Carta remain mere illusory promises up to now, almost six decades after the law was passed,” he said.
One of these provisions is Section 22 of the Magna Carta, which provides “significant medical benefits to teachers.”
Under the law, public school teachers are entitled to a free annual physical examination, Gatchalian noted.
If treatment or hospitalization is required, the government entity paying the teachers’ salaries is tasked to foot the bill, he added.
But Gatchalian said public school teachers “have been forced to pay for their own annual medical checkups since 1966.”
“While the DepEd has provided some monetary medical assistance since 2019, there is still no program to provide the annual check-up mandated by law,” the senator said.
Gatchalian also pointed to a provision under the law wherein a “retiring teacher should be promoted one rank higher and the salary of that rank should be the basis for the computation of the retirement benefits of teachers.”
“However, this policy has not been implemented by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). During our hearings, GSIS raised concerns on the actuarial impact of this provision, as well as equal protection concerns under the Constitution,” he said.
He said his committee is siding with the teachers after finding out that the “basis for the computation of the lump sum of the retirement pay and the monthly benefits thereafter should be a one range salary raise upon retirement of the teachers, pursuant to the Magna Carta.”
“The general rule applied by GSIS in calculating the retirement benefits of public school teachers, which is the average monthly compensation received by an employee during the last 36 months of service preceding retirement, is incorrect,” he said.
“If this computation is continuously followed, it will defeat the wisdom behind the Magna Carta on the retirement pay of public school teachers. Thus, this provision should be immediately implemented,” Gatchalian continued.
He also cited Section 31 of the Magna Carta requiring the DepEd secretary to submit to Congress annually the necessary budget estimates to implement the provisions on benefits for public school teachers.
“However, DepEd only submits an omnibus budget request to Congress covering all of its annual budgetary needs,” the senator pointed out.
“It is clear that DepEd must submit a specific annual budget to ensure the full implementation of the Magna Carta,” he added.
Among the recommendations of the committee, include raising the salaries of public school teachers.
Further, the government should also “provide adequate health insurance to teachers,” the panel said.
“The benefits they are currently receiving under PhilHealth are not enough to meet the requirements for medical coverage under the Magna Carta,” Gatchalian said.
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