Amid a "measly" wage increase, teachers on Wednesday slammed the P36.439-billion allocation to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict aimed to end insurgency through Executive Order 70.
“We are enraged that Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC, his main fascist machinery that has militarized the bureaucracy, gets a huge chunk of people’s coffers. Meanwhile, the calamity fund was significantly slashed and the pay hike budget for 1.5-million civilian employees was prudently provided for in the 2020 budget. Such leaves us vulnerable in times of crisis, like now that we are facing the tragedy of the Taal Volcano eruption. The government’s neglect has never been more evident, and the people’s collective power ever more powerful as we are left to rely on each other,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
Basilio said the task force’s budget was P3 billion more than the P33.2 for the 2020 salary increase of government workers, and was even P20 billion more than the P16-billion calamity fund.
He vowed to fight for the upgrading of their wages to Salary Grade 15 under the Salary Standardization Law.
"The P1,562 monthly increase until 2023 for public school teachers is nowhere near the doubled salary President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly pledged and had quickly provided for cops and soldiers, nor does it come close to teachers' demand for P30,000 minimum pay, which nurses will start receiving this year after the Supreme Court ruled to move nurses' entry level pay to Salary Grade 15," he said.
He said that their salaries "fall behind those of professionals in other fields."
“Therefore, teachers’ fight for decent pay, better benefits and services for all to serve more than just the economic interests of the people but also contributes to the frustration of Duterte’s drive for absolute power,” said Basilio.
The group also hit the government's "prioritization of war over people’s welfare."
ACT said that the NTF-ELCAC not only takes resources away from necessary services to the people, it also poses a threat to democracy as it was allegedly responsible for the series of political attacks against dissenters and those fighting for their rights, such as ACT and other individuals and organizations.
“The NTF-ELCAC and its regional formations have launched a campaign to vilify and red-tag ACT and teacher-unionists in several regions. We’ve documented reports of the said task force holding symposia and fora in which it tags our and other progressive organizations as communist fronts. Our leaders have been subjected to surveillance, threats, and harassments, and then being given copies of EO 70 and being told forced to ‘surrender’ to the government,” said Basilio.
ACT said that the NTF-ELCAC is a ‘fascist machinery’ that must be dismantled.
“Should there be any sincerity to the government’s desire to end the 51-year war in the country, it should address the roots of armed conflict beginning with opening the peace talks again with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and signing the CASER,” he said.
CASER is the Comprehensive Agreement for Socio-Economic Reforms, which provides for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, among others. It also provides for the granting of decent wages and salaries to workers.
ACT added that “the government kills us twice over—through his wars against the people, especially the poor, and by denying us our basic rights to social and economic services.”
ACT said it is calling on the people to unite and hold the Duterte administration accountable for its abandonment of the people and failure to do its duties.