The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines on Friday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for what it called instigating violence instead of addressing the real issue behind teachers’ discontent with the new Salary Standardization Law, with a measly pay hike of around P1,500 per month until 2023.
ACT said this did nothing to raise teachers’ status and standards of living.
The criticism came after President Duterte called for the shooting or running over of loan sharks supposedly behind the debt crisis of teachers.
“The President’s almost maniacal penchant for killing and violence as the solution to everything is highly disturbing, and completely misses the point of teachers’ struggles and unrest. The loan sharks and the PLIs (private lending institutions) are not the main problem, but our low salaries that make us extremely vulnerable to such. Kapit sa patalim, ika nga,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
Basilio added it was actually the government that had been “feeding teachers to the wolves” by maintaining their low salaries amid consistently rising costs of living.
ACT said to correct and address this injustice, the government must heed the just demands of teachers.
“If he’s so hell-bent on killing opportunist loan sharks and PLIs, he can do so by substantially raising teachers and other civilian workers’ salaries so as to render these financial businesses necessary,” said Basilio.
ACT called on the President to upgrade teachers’ salaries to salary grade 15, which will help them keep up with the salaries of nurses and military and uniformed personnel. For non-teaching employees, the group is calling for a P16,000 minimum pay.
Basilio found ‘incorrigible’ the President’s ‘reckless statements’ defending his doubling of cops and soldiers’ pay in light of the latter’s participation in relief efforts for victims of the Taal eruption.
“Duterte clearly has no idea about the key role of teachers in times of disaster. Before and after a calamity strikes, teachers take part in preparing their schools for evacuees and in later providing psychosocial and even economic support to their students. We shell out money and any other resource we have to fast-track the restoration of our classrooms so students can soon go back to school and regain some normalcy again. All this while being among the victims as well of these disasters,” said Basilio.
ACT urged the President to go to the grounds and see for himself how teachers and other civilian public workers go beyond their mandates and exemplify “above and beyond service to the people”despite the government’s continued neglect of their state.