As her department kicks off National Teachers' Month, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said there is a "continuing need" to recognize teachers in the country.
"For every one of the outstanding teachers we are recognizing today, there are more who are unrecognized," she said on Thursday, September 8, after meeting Metrobank's 2016 Outstanding Teachers.
During National Teachers' Month, Filipinos celebrate the lives of teachers and recognize their contributions for an entire month, from September 5 to October 5, in line with Presidential Proclamation 242.
The month-long celebration culminates on October 5, World Teachers' Day.
Briones, who herself was a teacher and grew up surrounded by a family of teachers, said teachers are ever-present in places of joy, in times of peace and prosperity, and even in times of war.
"[There are those] you don't know, in the most remote places, suffering along with communities in their tribulations but continuing their job as teachers," she explained.
Briones also challenged the Metrobank Foundation to expand its annual Search for Outstanding Teachers to include more than 10 teachers. The 10 awardees are:
On the sidelines of Thursday's event, Briones was asked again about calls for the salary increase of teachers.
"Kung naipangako na 'yan [ni President Duterte], e 'di susundin niya 'yun, siya man ang mag-approve niyan. Ire-recommend 'yan ng [Department of Budget and Management]," she explained.
(If President Duterte has promised that, then he would do that, he would be the one to approve that. DBM would recommend that.)
Briones, who was former national treasurer under the Estrada administration, has repeatedly explained that any salary increase should take into consideration the widening gap between public and private school teachers.
"Kami siyempre may simpatya kami sa teachers pero gusto rin nating tingnan 'yung buong ekonomiya. Isipin natin: 683,000 teachers. Isipin din natin teachers sa mga maliliit na mga private schools…. Kailangang balansehin 'yan," she said.
(We sympathize with teachers but we also want to look at the entire economy. Think about it: 683,000 teachers. We also have to think about teachers in small private schools.... We have to balance that.)
She also noted that public school teachers are government employees.
"Nandyan si pulis, nandyan si nurse, nandyan si clerk, nandyan si typist, nandyan si janitor. Kailangan e kung isipin nating taasan sahod ng ating mga teachers, alinsabay kasi nagki-create tayo ng napakalawak na gap."
(There's the police, the nurse, the clerk, the typist, the janitor. If we want to increase the salary of teachers, it has to happen at the same time because we're only creating a wide gap.)
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.