Manila, Philippines – The public school teachers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers today celebrated the 2015 World Teachers Day through series of nationwide protest actions to call for justice over the brutal killing of Alternative Center of Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) executive director Emerito “Emok” Samarca and to protest the P21 proposed salary adjustment for teachers and public employees.
“The Philippine Constitution’s Article XIV, Section 5 clearly states the government must allot the highest budgetary allocation to education and that salaries for the teachers must give “satisfaction and fulfillment” to them. The current pay scheme of government fails to fulfill these criteria. Salaries of public school teachers do not compare favorably with other occupation in government. A duly licensed professional teacher earns P18,549 a month, substantially less than a high school graduate who enters the Philippine Military Academy as a cadet who has a monthly salary of P21,709 per month,” said France Castro, Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Philippines’ secretary-general.
The salaries of public school teachers are currently unable to “ensure a reasonable standard of life for themselves and their families.” According to the study of IBON Foundation, the Family Living Wage (FLW) in the National Capital Region, estimated at P1, 054 per day or more than P31, 620 per month, which means that many teachers resort to borrowing from government financial institutions such as the Government Service Insurance System, private lending institutions, or loan sharks in order to cope with this “living salary gap.”
“We are aghast with his (PNoy) announcement that only a meager 5% salary adjustment to be implemented for the public school teachers and employees next year. 5% of P18, 549 is P927 and will only give us (teachers) P21 per day. This is not an increase but is rather a testament to the total disregard of PNoy to our poor plight. We are asking for a substantial increase and not for alms! With the sacrifice and service we are doing for the Filipino people, our demand is just and legitimate. Kahit pulubi hindi tatanggapin ang limus na ito!” stressed Ms. Castro.
Since 2012, teachers had been clamoring for a pay adjustment as stated in the Salary Standardization Law III. The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers on the other hand stipulated that “teachers pay should be able to provide them and their families a decent standard of living.”
“Clearly, there is reason for this just and humane demand and we press for the immediate passing of HB 245 proposed by ACT Teachers Party-list which aims to raise the entry level pay of public school teachers to P25,000 from P18,549 per month and of the non-teaching staff’s from P9,000 to P15,000 per month,” added Ms. Casstro.
Aside from protesting the centavo increase, teachers are also raged over the brutal murder of Teacher Emok Samarca, executive director of ALCADEV, an alternative school serving the Lumad of Surigao del Sur.
“Since August 30, 2015, soldiers belonging to 36th Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been occupying the Lumad community together with members of the paramilitary group Magahat Bagani Force. Both the soldiers and the paramilitary have been issuing threats against the teachers and staff of ALCADEV that they will be killed and were given only two days to leave the school. Teacher Emok was held and detained by the armed members of Magahat Bagani. He was last seen tied in the neck, arms and legs and brought inside one of the ALCADEV classrooms. He was found dead inside the classroom with a slit in the neck and multiple stab wounds. He was brutally murdered because of his passion towards giving quality and relevant education to the Lumad youth of Surigao del Sur. The Lumad has been denied the most basic social services like education for decades already and this heinous crime is designed to further deny them their right for education and other social services. PNoy and Secretary Luistro are equally liable on this after the latter issued DepEd Memorandum # 221 which allowed the entry and use of soldiers for their military activities and operations. Their hands are tainted with blood like the soldiers and the Magahat Bagani,” pointed out Ms. Castro.
“While our fellow educators and fellow Filipinos in Mindanao are being brutally killed, he (PNoy) is squeezing us also to death in the form of low salary and benefits, higher taxes and skyrocketing increases in the prices of basic commodities and services. Clearly, his “tuwid na daan” is nothing but an empty rhetoric aimed at making the lives of the common Filipinos miserable. The Filipino teachers have nothing to celebrate for this year’s World Teachers’ Day for we are neglected, insulted and killed,” ended Ms. Castro.
For Reference: France Castro, Secretary – General, ACT-Philippines