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Nation’s teachers get pay assurance

THE nation’s teachers and other government employees will have to get used to the idea that uniformed personnel – soldiers and policemen – have received special treatment from the Duterte administration. But they can use this as a goal for their own efforts for better pay.

The salaries of the 172,500 personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the 170,000 Philippine National Police (PNP) men were doubled by Joint Resolution No. 1 approved by Congress last December and signed by President Duterte on the first day of 2018. Joint Resolution No. 1 authorized increases in the base pay, allowances, benefits, and incentives of AFP and PNP personnel, which doubled their monthly pay. Funds for the pay hikes, estimated at P40 billion, were included in the national budget for 2018.

Other government employees, especially teachers, reminded the government that they too deserve salary increases.

Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management said he is not against the teachers’ salary increases but the government does not have the funds at this time. For the nation’s 600,000 teachers to get the same doubling of pay, he said, P343.7 billion would be needed.

The nation’s teachers will have to wait until 2019 to get any increase in pay along with other government employees, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque. The increase would come from the workings of the Salary Standardization Law enacted by Congress in 2015 which provided for pay adjustments in several tranches. The next tranche – the third – of P24 billion is due to be included in the 2018 budget for release in 2019. There will be a final tranche in 2020.

The teachers will also benefit from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the Department of Education said. Under the law, all Filipinos earning P250,000 a year and below no longer need to pay income tax. This will raise their take-home pay, the DepEd said.

The doubling of pay in the AFP and PNP may have upset the delicately balanced government pay scales, because President Duterte wanted to carry out his campaign promise to double the AFP and PNP men’s pay. It has, however, served to raise considerably the goals of all government workers, especially teachers.

In one Malacañang interview, presidential spokesman Roque said Malacañang has assured the nation’s teachers that they will be the next beneficiaries and that they will get their raises within the term of President Duterte which ends in 2022.