Mentors’ raises on ice

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Promising public school teachers will be his priority this year, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will “strike a deal” with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Education Secretary Leonor Briones to ensure that they get their pay hikes.

We are happy that we’re in the same boat with the President in terms of providing our public school teachers a salary that is commensurate to their value to our society

In his address to teachers at the groundbreaking of the Gen. Gregorio del Pilar National High School in Bulacan, Duterte said he directed both Cabinet members to “make it fast.”

Photo from facebook.

“Then we can make even an agreement or manifesto or choose whatever kind of document.

You will be next to receive salary increases this year,” Mr. Duterte said.

The President said he is willing to talk to representatives of teachers, “but not the leftist ones.”

Then we can make even an agreement or manifesto or choose whatever kind of document. You will be next to receive salary increases this year

The commitment to increase teachers’ wages immediately drew support from legislators as a huge boost, not only to the welfare of thousands of mentors, but also to the country’s educational system.

Sen. Sonny Angara said the President’s promise will surely motivate public school teachers to perform better — for the benefit of the Filipino students and future generation.

“Our teachers are considered to be the heart of the educational system. The government needs to give priority to their welfare and interests,” Angara pointed out.

Improved education quality
“Definitely, this would lead to an improvement in the quality of education in our public school system,” he added.

While Mr. Duterte did not mention how much the increase would be, it was definitely on top of the fourth and last tranche of salary increases for all government workers to be implemented this year.

Angara has been pushing for the teachers’ salary hike since he was a member of the House of Representatives representing the lone district of Aurora province.

In June 2016, he filed Senate Bill 135 which sought to adjust the minimum salary grade level of teachers by double their current monthly base pay of P20,179 to P42,099.

“We are happy that we’re in the same boat with the President in terms of providing our public school teachers a salary that is commensurate to their value to our society,” he said.

“Our teachers may have one of the hardest jobs with the smallest monetary reward. Thus, giving them a reasonable raise would help them feel more appreciated and understand why they wanted the job in the first place,” he added.

Priority explained
Mr. Duterte said the salary increase of uniformed personnel came first due to budget constraints and the peace and order situation in the country but vowed to prioritize the teachers’ pay hike next.

In January 2018, Duterte signed a joint resolution increasing the base pay of the military and police.

“I prioritized the soldiers’ pay hike because I know what will happen. I saw the future and it would cost lives. I had to act first. I just did not divulge it,” he said, apparently referring to the Islamic State (IS)-inspired siege of Marawi City.

“The intelligence community, the way we were picturing it is that something would happen, and something indeed happened. Which is why I was caught in between, ma’am,” he said talking to a crowd of public school teachers.

The President’s promise will surely motivate public school teachers to perform better.

Diokno, meanwhile, said all government employees are set to receive a salary increase in 2019, but Congress needs to approve the national budget first.

“All government employees will get an increase in pay, but it has to wait for the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act. DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has initiated a study for the increase in compensation for government workers from 2020 to 2022,” Diokno said in a message to reporters Thursday.

Last Wednesday, the Budget chief announced an additional salary hike for government workers is also scheduled in 2020. This is following news that the fourth tranche of salary adjustments will not be implemented until the General Appropriations Act (GAA) is legislated.

Nevertheless, he assured the workers that the fourth tranche of salary adjustments will be implemented by February and government employees will be entitled to their salary differentials.

“With pronouncements from Congress that budget bill will be their top priority upon resumption next week, we expect the GAA to be signed first week February,” he said.

New salary structure set
In addition, the Governance Commission for GOCC (GCG) is contracting an independent firm to conduct a study on the wage structure of government workers vis-a-vis their private sector counterparts.

The DBM will be utilizing this data to craft a new salary schedule for government workers to be implemented starting 2020.

Funding for the conduct of the study has already been allocated to the agency budget of the GCG for FY 2019. Currently, the agency is conducting Early Procurement for the independent researcher, so they may proceed with the conduct of the study as soon as the 2019 General Appropriations Act is passed.

Results from the study are expected to be delivered by the independent firm before end of June this year. Consequently, the DBM will come out with a proposed salary schedule by the third quarter of 2019.

Still no arms from US
Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte is still firm on his decision not to buy arms and military equipment from the United States during his term despite the threat of Washington to sanction countries that deal with Russia.

All government employees will get an increase in pay, but it has to wait for the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

In a speech before military personnel in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan recently, the President revealed that aside from Russia, the US also is against the Philippines purchasing arms from China.

“If you buy arms from Russia or China, you cannot trade with America. So, I told your superiors and the civilian leaders that with that kind of arrangement, do not expect me to buy arms from the United States,” Duterte said. “The US really pushed us against the wall after we asked help from Russia and China.”

He also noted he is setting his sights on Israel and South Korea as potential arms suppliers with the US now out of the picture.

“I will not agree to buy from the US. It does not sit well with the Filipinos,” Duterte said.

“They started it, and they criticized me heavily on the war on drugs.”

with Elmer N. Manuel

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