ACT’s claim baseless, misplaced: DILG chief

<p>Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año. </p>

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año. 

MANILA -- Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Saturday described the claim of left-leaning group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) that President Rodrigo Duterte favors the police and military over public school teachers as "misplaced" and baseless.

In a statement, Año said the Duterte administration "recognizes the contribution of our teachers as stewards of our youth's future as much as we take cognizance of the hard work of our uniformed sector in protecting and securing our communities."

He said the President's concern and committment to government employees, including teachers, is without question, noting the Chief Executive's late mother was also a public school teacher.

"The salaries of our police and uniformed personnel were raised first simply because it was an election promise of the President as part of his platform of government. It’s also a recognition of the daily sacrifice of our police officers who place their lives on the line 24 hours every day in the war against criminality, illegal drugs, communist insurgency and other threats to peace and order and national security," he said.

Although he supports the clamor for a pay hike for government teachers, the DILG chief said it would be difficult for the government to grant salary increase to teachers because of their sheer number which now stands at 830,000 as opposed to the 170,000 police officers.

"Nonetheless, the President has spoken and the administration is committed to deliver a pay hike to our public school teachers but it cannot be done overnight as claimed by the ACT. The Cabinet is now studying and looking for potential fund sources for the salary increase as directed by the President," Año added.

The government, he said, is committed to the plight and welfare of soldiers and the police "as we are to teachers, public health workers, and to each and every Filipino."

"But no matter how committed the President is, he cannot oblige to the clamor of each sector all at the same time because of budgetary limitations," he added.

Año also called on ACT officials and members to join hands with the government in finding ways and means to improve the delivery of education to the youth.

"Let us mold them to become responsible citizens away from the deceit and machinations of communist-led student organizations that only want them to rise up in arms against the government. We also urge ACT to monitor its ranks and be vigilant against the infiltration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)through the Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA) who seeks to overthrow our duly constituted government and our democratic way of life," Año said.

AFP support

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the pay hike for the military personnel has been long overdue, noting that the organization's modernization and salary increase materializing only in the last eight years.

In a separate statement issued Saturday, the AFP also noted that the proceeds of the sale of its military bases in 1995 went to the health and education departments.

"We support the wage increase of teachers but we should watch out for KAGUMA members destroying your ranks in ACT. Help the PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP in preventing the recruitment of youth to prolong this insurgency. If we are able to end this insurgency immediately then we may be able to contribute to DepEds' needs, with half of DND [Department of National Defense] budget possibly going to them," the AFP said. (PNA)