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Teachers want dignity back

We have had enough of praises, plaques and flowers. Discounted books, fares, buffets, rides and yes, even funeral services are appreciated. But teachers deserve more. We deserve our dignity

Alvin Murcia

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A teachers group pressed anew its demand for compensation and benefits for public school teachers and employees of the Department of Education (DepEd) on top of the generic Salary Standardization Law (SSL).

The Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) asked the Senate to recognize all the bills that seek to augment the salaries of public school teachers and government employees.
Benjo Basas, national chair of TDC, mentioned Senate Bill Number (SBN) 37 of Hon. Francis Pangilinan; SBN 70 of Hon. Pia Cayetano; SBN 104 of Hon. Juan Miguel Zubiri; and SBN 466 of Hon. Ralph Recto.

These bills seek to provide for a P10,000 additional compensation to all teachers and non-teaching personnel in the basic education system, among other benefits, which the group calls the “P10,000 across-the-board bill.”

This proposal is the reference of the interviews and reactions from Education and Budget departments.

Basas said it was also the basis of the promise made by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte when he became an official candidate for president with running mate former Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, the principal sponsor of the bill in the 16th, 17th and 18th Congress.

When the TDC was formed, the group has consistently lobbied for the enactment of the Salary Upgrading Bill which has become a perennial proposal in both houses of Congress for more than two decades.

The Salary Upgrading Bill seeks to raise the entry-level position of public school teachers under the Salary Standardization Law-1 (RA 6758) from Salary Grade (SG) 10 to a higher status, some proponents put it to as high as SG 21.

The proposal is consistent with the findings and recommendations of the 1991 joint report of education committees of both houses.

But due to the fear of wage distortion and disparity — because the entry-level position of teachers might become higher than other positions like government physicians, lawyers or even college professors prevented the bill from enactment.

The group achieved a breakthrough in year 2008, when the Senate Committees on Education, Finance and Government Service took a decisive step to tackle several versions of said bill filed before the chamber.

The majority of senators approved a consolidated version, the Senate Bill 2408 or An Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education.

The bill seeks to augment the teachers’ salaries by providing for a P9,000 additional compensation to be divided in three tranches, A Magna Carta Bonus in recognition of the long-forgotten law, medical allowance and remuneration from the local government units among other benefits.

The bill eventually gained support in the lower House as several versions were filed.

On 29 September 2008, the TDC led more than 5,000 teachers to the House of Representatives to press for the passage of the bill.

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