MANILA, Philippines – ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on Thursday, January 11, called Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno “teacher’s enemy #1” following his take on President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to increase the salaries of the country’s public school teachers.
“He consistently opposed proposals for the increase of benefits and salaries of teachers,” said Castro in a statement after she joined officials of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, who all supported the proposed salary hike. (READ: Teachers’ take-home pay to increase due to tax reform – DepEd)
During a Cabinet meeting Monday, January 8, Duterte said he wanted to raise the salaries of public teachers, following the increase in wages of soldiers, police, and other uniformed personnel. This would be funded through a second tax reform package.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Diokno said that an increase in teachers’ salaries, which would cost around P500 trillion, was not the priority of the administration. “Our priority is ‘Build, Build, Build’ and social protection,” said Diokno, referring to the administration’s ambitious infrastructure plan.
Diokno said they would have to “study that (suggestion) very carefully.” (READ: Duterte: After military, teachers next in line for salary hike)
Even during deliberations for a joint resolution that pushed for the salary increase of soldiers, police, and other uniformed personnel, legislators belonging to the Makabayan bloc attempted to amend it so that all government employees would benefit from a salary hike. These attempts were rejected at the House, dominated by a Duterte-allied supermajority.
Castro and ACT Teachers belong to the Makabayan bloc, which was formerly part of the supermajority but now an independent faction in the House.
To increase the salaries of policemen and soldiers was among Duterte’s promises during the 2016 campaign. While he promised an immediate hike, it was Diokno who said it was unlikely in Duterte’s first year.
Duterte recently signed into law the first tax reform package or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law, which is now being criticized as anti-poor. – Rappler.com