MANILA, Philippines – Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Representative France Castro described Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno as “teacher’s enemy #1” after his statements about the plan of increasing the salary of public school teachers in the country.
“He consistently opposed proposals for the increase of benefits and salaries of teachers,” Castro said in a statement.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to find ways of increasing the pay of teachers.
Roque added that Duterte wants to double the teachers’ salary following the increase in wages of the uniformed forces. This would be funded through the second package of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
However, Diokno has u-turned from Duterte’s orders, saying it’s not yet a government “priority.”
“I think that is not a priority at this time. Our priority is ‘Build, Build, Build’ and the social protection, taking care of the poor,” Diokno said.
Meanwhile, Castro has gained support for colleagues in House, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, and Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe.
“With the higher revenue take from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, the government will have fiscal space to fund a salary increase for teachers,” Villafuerte said.
“As a son of a teacher when the salary of a teacher was ridiculously low, this is cause for jubilation for all our teachers. Doubling their salary will certainly boost their morale and enhance the quality of education in the country,” Batocabe added.
Entry-level teachers holding Salary Grade 11 or a monthly salary of P21, 000, the same pay level as government nurses.
The budget chief added that doubling the pay of public school teachers will require an additional P337 billion on the part of the government.
However, Diokno reassured that teachers will get their salary increase this year and in 2019 under the Salary Standardization Law.