BULATLAT SPECIAL REPORT:
“Teachers have the greatest responsibility, but the enormous salary lag compared to top government officials is despicable.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Salary Standardization Law 2015 (SSL) was passed on third and final reading at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Dec. 9, amid protests that it is skewed in favor of top-ranking officials.
House Bill 6268 was passed by 170 votes, with only five voting against. ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio stood by his position that the increase given to lower and middle employees is minuscule compared to the increase given to higher positions in the government.
“We voted no because the whole process that the SSL 2015 went through is undemocratic. The government employees’ were not even consulted. How did the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and Malacañang come up with this proposal? Only by consulting the American human resources consulting firm, Towers Watson. We are stressing, that there is no consultation made with the employees here,” Tinio said.
Based on the SSL 2015, the current salary of those who are in the front line of service, such as teachers and nurses, will increase from P18,549 ($393) a month to P20,745 ($440) or 11.89 percent increase. According to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), this is only P2,205 ($47), and when divided into four tranches would be $551 ($12) each year.
Rank-and-file police, soldiers and other uniformed personnel will also be granted an increase of 12 percent, from P14,834 ($315) to 16,597 ($352).
Meanwhile, senators, congressmen and cabinet secretaries will have an increase of 186 percent, or from P90,000 ($1,908) a month to P257,809 ($5,465). The salaries of the Vice President and House Speaker will increase from P103,000 ($2,183) to 307,365 ($6,516) and the President from P120,000 ($2,544) to P388,096 ($8,228).
Louie Zabala, Manila Public School Teachers’ Association president said the gap on the salary increase between rank-and-file and top officials is scandalous. “Indeed, there is money for SSL 2015, but the poorly-paid teachers and other rank-and-file employees’ demands were ignored by Malacañang,” Zabala said.
‘Not enough for majority of government employees’
In his privilege speech, Tinio said the SSL 2015 is not enough for the clerk, utility worker, public school teacher, public nurse, soldiers, police, firefighters and others who make up the two-thirds of the 1.4 million bureaucracy of the government.
He said that while bonuses will be also given to the government employees, it is the salary that will address the employee’s everyday expenses.
“There is midyear bonus or sometimes called 14th month pay and Enhanced Performance Based Bonus. But what I assert is salary increase for the government employees and not bonuses that have conditions. Because this is how it goes with the Performance Based Bonus,” the teachers’ representative said.
Tinio said it will also serve as an investment in the future when an employee retires. “Their retirement will be based on their salary and not in their bonuses,” he said.
Public school teachers, meanwhile, urged senators to consider amending the SSL 2015.
ACT President Benjamin Valbuena said senators only have the same response on their lobby campaign in the Senate this week. “We were told that the SSL 2015 will be passed as it is, because it is what DBM Secretary Florencio Abad and President Aquino want,” said Valbuena in their protest in front of the Senate on Thursday, Dec. 9.
They also held their nationwide sit-down strike on the same day. In Calderon Integrated High School and Lagro High School, no classes were held.
Public schools teachers lamented that government officials were voted by the people, and should listen to the call of the majority instead of Abad and Aquino.
“We know that the legislative, judiciary and executive are separate. But Aquino is not following the process. It appears here that Aquino and Abad exercise power over the legislative and the judiciary,” said Valbuena.
The public school teachers lament that so much have changed through the years, but their salary has failed to keep up. Their workloads increased, their bonuses are now based on their performance, they are forced to innovate their teaching methods without proper funding from the government, and forced to do clerical work, such as encoding students’ names in the Department of Education website.
Teacher Ana (real name withheld due to request), who has been teaching in public school in Caloocan for 10 years, lamented that teachers are being undermined with the Results-Based Performance Management System.
“We are now being rated based on our output, when it is not a regulation back then. We are told to produce researches as a ‘give back’ to the bonuses that we received. It’s as if we are not doing our duty to Filipino children,” she told Bulatlat.com. She too agreed that the SSL 2015 is not enough and should be amended.
Rommel Candido, a teacher in Navotas, hit the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum without the DepEd providing books, equipment and facilities. “Our school offer cookery but there is not a single stove in our school,” said Candido.
“Teachers have the greatest responsibility, but the enormous salary lag compared to top government officials is despicable. Aquino’s SSL 2015 will widen the gap. The SSL 2015 creates a perverse bias against education and undermining the possibility of improving its poor quality,” said Valbuena.