MANILA - In the Philippines, public school teachers are being paid less than call center supervisors or cadets of the Philippine Military Academy, a teachers' rights group claimed Monday.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers chairperson Benjamin Valbuena said public school teachers, some of whom have taken up masteral degrees and doctorates, are paid less than call center workers.
"Call center workers get about P20,000 while cadets in the PMA get P25,000. Our work may be honorable but our salary is not," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Valbuena said one problem faced by teachers are large deductions on their take-home pay. He said some teachers bring home as little as P5,000-P7,000 after legal deductions and after paying off loan sharks.
"Hindi talaga mapapang-abot from payday to next payday. Hindi talaga kakasya. Halos lahat ng teachers pumupunta sa lending institutions," he said.
He said loan sharks impose 18% interest on loans.
The alliance is urging government to increase teachers' pay from P18,000 to P25,000 a month.
For his part, Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo confirmed that the entry-level salary for the Teacher 1 position is at P18,549.
However, he said teachers also get relief allowance, health and assistance premiums and other benefits. All in all, he said the total benefits received by a Teacher 1 (entry level) is at P20,974.
After deductions, public school teachers get P15,000-P16,000 take-home pay.
Mateo said the Department of Education supports any additional benefit for teachers. However, he also said Congress needs to pass a law for any salary increase.
The DepEd official admitted that in the past, teachers used to get their salaries delayed because the government issued cheques. This was changed to the ATM system.
He also said the government set up a fund to replace lending institutions that charge usurious rates.
Valbuena, however, noted that many teachers in dire need of funds sometimes "pawn" their ATMs to get money quickly. This came about after government barred teachers from getting a loan if they are only getting P3,000-P5,000 in take-home pay.
"We want to avoid a situation where the teachers don't get anything," Mateo said.
Valbuena, however, countered: "They can't get a loan so this is why they just pawn their ATMs."
The ACT official said some teachers augment their incomes through moonlighting or doing "sidelines." He, however, said this is easier said than done for teachers who are single moms or have spouses that are jobless.