Department of Education (DepEd) chief Leonor Briones on Friday stressed she is not against the salary increase of public school teachers.
“As Education Secretary, and as an advocate, I am committed to the policy to promote and improve the social and economic status of public school teachers, their living and working conditions, and their terms of employment. I am in full support of the President’s pronouncement to raise the salaries of teachers,” Briones said in a statement.
Briones was reacting to news reports and accusations of teachers’ groups, saying she is anti-salary increase when she said: “Teaching is not all about money”.
She said the DepEd has been working closely with the Cabinet “to find ways and means to provide the salary increase for almost 830,000 public school teachers”.
“Last year, when this was taken up in the Cabinet, the decision was to allow the fourth and last tranche of the SSL (Salary Standardization Law) this year, and for DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to come up with a study on how to affect the next salary increase. The next salary increase is presently under discussion,” she added.
Briones said the public misunderstood her “discussion of the considerations that need to be taken into account in making the decision for a position against salary increase”.
“First, we need to carefully assess the fiscal impact of the salary increase. A PHP5,000 across the board increase will require an additional PHP75 billion annually. Raising such amount will have to consider corresponding policies in taxes, borrowing, or budget reallocation,” she said
“Second, I emphasize that we cannot think of the teachers alone. There is an equity issue in relation to other government personnel that we need to address,” she added.
Emphasizing the DepEd’s continuous efforts to uplift the condition of the public school teachers, Briones said the teachers’ salaries have improved over time and some exclusive benefits have been added to their basic pay.
“The salaries of public school teachers have already overtaken the salaries of those in private school, resulting in the migration of private school teachers to public schools. I call attention to these not to argue against salary increase, but as a correction to the public notion that public school teachers are still the most pitiful and lowest paid profession,” she added.
Briones said she has been the target of “certain vicious organized groups among the ranks of teachers to overshadow the reforms the DepEd has accomplished”.
“Nonetheless, I also go around the country to visit schools, and I see that most teachers appreciate the efforts that we do for and with them. Yes, there are limitations, yet these do not stop us from sharing music, dance, laughter, and the joy and pride of teaching,” she added.
Saying there would be a salary increase for public school teachers, Briones said it is her duty to ensure that “such salary increase is equitable, within the government’s means, and is sustainable”. (Ma. Teresa Montemayor/PNA)