MANILA -- Several senators on Friday joined the mounting call to increase the salaries of public school teachers in recognition of the critical role they play in the lives of the youth and in nation-building in time for the celebration of National Teachers’ Day, which is being observed on October 5 (Saturday).
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri vowed to prioritize the bills proposing pay hikes and additional grants to teachers filed in the Senate.
“Our teachers deserve more than we have managed to give them such as salary increases in line with the Salary Standardization Law in 2015 mandating a series of increases in four years that ends this year,” Zubiri said.
“Government has promised to institute another round of government pay hikes. We will initiate the push for pay hikes in the Senate," he added.
Zubiri noted that he particularly filed Senate Bill No. 104, which seeks a PHP10,000 monthly additional pay, a grant of bigger chalk allowance, PHP1,000 annual medical check-up allowance and giving the long-delayed yet much-deserved Magna Carta benefits.
The Senate leader said the chamber would help President Rodrigo Duterte find the sources of funds to fulfill his promise during the State of the Nation Address to double public school teachers’ salaries, as that would entail PHP343.7 billion.
The proposed 2020 budget of the Department of Education for salaries is PHP417.5 billion.
"By paying our teachers bigger salaries, we shall graduate from our sad reputation in the past as an 'exporter' of teachers. They will now have a strong reason to stay as teachers in the country and not leave their families,” Zubiri said.
Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, said the adjustment in the salary grades of teachers is justified considering the rising cost of living in the country.
Angara filed Senate Bill 131, which calls for an increase in the starting pay of public school teachers, from the present Salary Grade 11 (PHP20,754) to Salary Grade 19 (PHP45,269) based on the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law.
He highlighted that a corresponding upgrade in the salaries of the rest of the teachers above the entry-level would also be implemented.
The upgrade in salaries will be done over a period of five years so that the Department of Budget and Management will be able to make the necessary budgetary adjustments.
“Sometimes we forget just how important the role teachers play in our lives. We take for granted the hard work that they put in to craft our children into productive members of society,” Angara said.
“Without our teachers, parents would have to make great sacrifices to educate their children and many of them can’t afford to do this. That is why we should at the very least raise their salaries to a level that will recognize their value,” Angara added.
Senator Pia Cayetano, on the other hand, said the pay hike is the “best affirmation” of government's high regard for the country’s educators and their contributions to nation-building.
Cayetano authored Senate Bill No. 70, which proposes additional support and compensation for educators.
She said the salary hike shall be granted over three years in three tranches, starting with a PHP4,000 monthly pay hike in the first year, an additional PHP3,000 per month in the second year, and a final increment of PHP3,000 per month in the third year.
"Raising the compensation of teachers affirms the dignity of the teaching profession. This will not only improve their lives but also inspire them to further improve," she said.
“We have so many hardworking teachers who deserve more support. Also, we can still do better to make the teaching profession more attractive to the best and brightest,” she added.
Cayetano pointed out that empowering teachers to successfully fulfill their role in society is part of the country’s commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Goal 4 of the SDGs particularly states that by 2030, the supply of qualified teachers in the country should have substantially increased. (PNA)