By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) revealed more cases of teachers holding offices inside toilets in response to Department of Education (DepEd) secretary Leonor Briones’ dismissal of such reports as mere “drama.”
ACT said it received reports and photos from Maligaya High School, Sergio Osmeña High School, Bagong Silangan Elementary School, and Quirino High School in Quezon City as well as from Villamor High School and Calderon High School in Manila that toilets have been converted to faculty rooms.
“Common to the cases is that teachers chipped-in their own money to have the CRs (comfort rooms) remodelled and furniture provided so that they may have a space to do duties outside of actual teaching,” ACT chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement.
Briones dismissed as theatrics a teachers’ Facebook post Monday showing they have transformed an unused toilet after vacating their faculty room due to classroom shortages.
“They had their choice they could hold their office in the laboratory rooms but of course it is more dramatic, it is more touching if you hold it in toilets,” a peeved Briones told reporters in an interview.
Bacoor National High School (BNHS) faculty association president Maricel Herrera is reportedly being threatened with an administrative case and cyber libel by her own principal Anita Rom for “damaging the image of the school and DepEd.”
ACT, however said, BNHS’ is not an isolated case as more teachers are coming out to speak out about their same situation.
Martinez added that teachers were compelled to set up makeshift faculty rooms in toilets and in stairwells.
Martinez also dismissed Briones’ claim teachers may use laboratories, libraries, conference rooms and other areas in schools, saying those rooms have their own purpose and must not be used as teachers’ lounges.
ACT also slammed Briones refusal to support their call for salary increases in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise.
In response to teachers’ demands for at least a P10,000 monthly salary hike, Briones instead said that the profession is “not all about the money.”
“Sec. Briones’ tirade against teachers proves that DepEd does not intend to give teachers any dignity. First, they neglect us in schools by not providing us a proper office, then they oppose our just call for better pay,” lamented Martinez.
“Nowhere in any government agency will you see that employees take out from their pockets what is needed to repair government facilities. Teachers do it because they don’t have much choice and out of their vocation. This is one proof that we are not money-driven,” Martinez explained.
ACT added that teachers are the last that should be lectured about vocation and Briones herself should be the last person to do so since her Php3.9 million 2018 income strips her of any moral ascendancy on the matter.
“Unlike her, teachers live on poor pay but our dedication to our students and to the country drives us every day to continue teaching and make up for the government deficiencies, even if that means ending up deep in debt and with no pension left to support us when it’s our time to rest,” Martinez said.
“We don’t deserve to be painted as a whiny, selfish, materialistic bunch for asserting our rights. Maybe that is why the secretary would not support our call for pay hike, she thinks very lowly of us,” she added.
ACT challenged DepEd to a dialogue.