BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday that increasing teachers’ pay is not the government’s priority, one day after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his agency to find ways to double the salaries of public school teachers under the second package of the tax reform law.
“That is not a priority at this time. Our priority is ‘Build, Build, Build’ and… taking care of the poor,” he said, referring to the administration’s massive infrastructure program that aims to create more jobs and promote economic growth.
Diokno said it would be better to carry out a pay raise in 2020 with the full implementation of the Salary Standardization Law.
He said the law will raise the pay of government workers, including public school teachers, by an average of 15 percent to 16 percent this year. Another round of pay hikes will be carried out next year.
Diokno said a salary increase for teachers at this time would cost the government an additional P500 billion.
He added that public school teachers are already paid more than their private sector counterparts.
At present, an entry-level teacher in a public school earns P20,000, excluding allowances and bonuses.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the President aims to double the salary of teachers and has ordered the Budget Department to find ways of raising their take-home pay.
Roque declined to comment on Diokno’s remarks, saying he would address them on Thursday, during his regular press briefing at the Palace.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said salary increase should cover all government workers, including nurses and other professionals aside from teachers.
“It is important that a review of the compensation package for the civilian personnel is undertaken in order to avoid wage distortion and inequality and make the salary of government professionals at par with their counterparts in the military and the police,” Drilon said.
He said that a review of the current government salary structure is made necessary by the increase in the basic salary of the military and non-uniformed personnel.
Senator Loren Legarda said that all public school teachers will receive additional P1,000 in their cash or chalk allowance this year.
Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said that additional P770 million was allocated in the Department of Education’s budget to increase the annual chalk allowance of public school teachers from P2,500 to P3,500 per teacher.
“This is good news for our teachers because additional allowance means they can purchase more of what they need to be more effective in teaching. Now they have additional P1,000 to purchase classroom supplies like chalk, markers, paper, erasers and other materials,” said Legarda.
ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, on the other hand, said the public school teachers deserve nothing less than a salary increase.
“As long-time advocates for decent pay, we welcome the statement coming from the Palace that President Duterte wants to increase the salaries of public school teachers,” Tinio said.
“His administration has already set the benchmark by doubling the basic pay of uniformed personnel starting this year. Our teachers deserve nothing less. We eagerly await the formal proposal from the [Department of Budget and Management],” Tinio added.
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