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Philippine Red Cross Chairman and senatorial candidate Richard “Dick” Gordon yesterday said that Filipino teachers must be able to take home higher wages at par with their counterparts in other countries.
During a roundtable discussion with Manila Bulletin editors, Gordon also emphasized the importance of education.
“But when it comes to pay, we are not ready to pay our teachers well. I don’t know why… Can you imagine if we start paying them P40,000, Salary Grade 21?” Gordon said, adding that this will also inspire more students to perform well in school and for the country to reap more.
He cited the example of Singapore, which has less population but is well-run and enjoys a booming economy with a per capita gross domestic product of around $83,000.
“Our country has $7,000 per capita income. Singapore pays their teachers P133,000… We pay our teachers R18,500 a month,” Gordon said. “We do not love our teachers. We claim we love them, we claim we love our children.”
Gordon said that he would give special preference to teachers, as “they deserve the highest level of respect by the community.”
“Why? The teachers mold our youth eight hours a day,” he said, adding that they form the citizens of the future. “If you pay them well, you’ll get the ‘magna cum laudes…’ Teachers must be teachers.”
He proposed to provide scholarships to top college students, as long as they would serve as teachers for a minimum of three years after they graduate.
At the same time, Gordon said he would also push for the return of the two-party political system, ensure proper budget for infrastructure, promote peace and order, urge the restoration of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and help attain a stronger military, and recommend amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
He also wants politicians who have just switched parties to be barred from running in the next elections, to deter a long-standing practice in Philippine politics.
“Today, you can even buy your own party, you can create your own party,” Gordon said, adding that many prefer to support candidates who are moneyed rather than those who possess the right principles and sufficient capabilities to lead the country.
This, he said, is a reason “why the country has fallen behind despite the greatness of the Filipino people.”
“We have fallen behind, because the systems have collapsed… the institutions have collapsed,” he said. “The parties don’t work, there’s no vetting.”
Gordon also lamented Comelec’s “non-implementation” of some features mandated by law in conducting the Overseas Absentee Voting.
“People must assert their right to orderly, peaceful, and honest elections. Two, they must hold the Comelec accountable for [such]. We have both failed,” he said. “You cannot change the country if you don’t change the people.”
He also pushed for the lifting of economic restrictions in the country, even as Filipinos have feared land ownership by foreigners.
“To my mind, we should not be afraid of the world, we should not fear the future. Make the future our friend,” he said, stressing the “five F’s” that Filipinos must exercise, namely, being focused, fast, friendly, flexible, and forward-looking.
Gordon even stressed that the national interest entails having very, very strong, well-experienced leaders.
“I will use my voice, my mind to do everything that I need to do for my country,” he said. (MONCH MISAGAL)