COTABATO CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) released last Saturday a total of P105 million in back wages to 1,801 ARMM teachers and employees.
DepEd-ARMM secretary Atty. Jamar Kulayan said most teachers and employees who got back wages are those who had been working for months prior to their inclusion in the department's payroll.
"Kapag ang teacher na-appoint, dati hindi kaagad agad nasu-sweldohan eh, so nag rereport muna sila for ilang months bago sila makakasama sa payroll. So, in the meantime na wala sila sa payroll, yun ang iki-claim nila ngayon na back wages," Kulayan said.
Most of these teachers are newly appointed, while some have been promoted.
Some teachers and employees had unpaid wages as far back as 2007 and 2009.
"Target natin na mahinto na itong pagbibigay ng back wages, dapat pag na-appoint na yung teacher at nag-render siya agad ng service, dapat the following month magkakasahod na siya," Kulayan said.
"Open for corruption kasi kapag ganito, magkakaroon na yan ng hatian yan eh, so kung may 12 checks, baka ang babalik kay teacher baka mga apat lang," he added.
To avoid corruption, the office has requested the teachers and employees to personally get their checks.
The department also asked them to report immediately if someone among their co-workers or employees asks them for a percentage of their back pay.
"Kaya minabuti natin na imbitahan ang Office of the Solicitor General para if they have complaints....because prior to this release of their back pay eh may kumausap sa kanila,...dapat sabihin na nila ngayon," Kulayan said.
Among the employees who received the highest amount of back wages is 26-year-old Gemma Abedin, a district nurse in Datu Paglas town in Maguindanao who received almost P270,000.
Abedin said she didn't expect that she would still receive her salary, which had been unpaid for more than a year.
"Masaya talaga ako, hindi ko alam na matatanggap ko pa to, akala ko nga wala na eh. Kaya salamat talaga malaking tulong talaga ito," Abedin said.
However, Abedin said around 25 percent of what she received will be used to pay her debts which she incurred while working without pay.