MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte is now seeking to increase salaries of public school teachers, Malacañang said Tuesday, after the government moved to double the pay of soldiers and police officers.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Tuesday that Duterte has instructed the budget department to find means to increase teachers' pay as the government prepares for the submission of its second tax reform package to Congress.
Roque could not say how big of an increase the President is seeking but said it may be the same as the hike in the pay of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel.
“Judging by what he wanted for the PNP and AFP, it could also be that he is aiming for the doubling the salary of teachers," said Roque.
The Department of Education (DepEd) said a Teacher I under salary grade 11 currently earns P19,620, while a Master Teacher IV (salary grade 21) earns P47,779.
Teachers' salaries are expected to increase in two more tranches in 2018 and 2019, as mandated by Executive Order 201 signed by former president Benigno Aquino III.
There are a total of 692,287 public school teachers across the country, per DepEd figures.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) has been pressing Duterte to raise salaries of educators after the government allowed loan payments to be deducted from their pay.
In a statement Tuesday night, TDC welcomed the announcement, saying members have been calling for a P10,000 across-the-board increase in government teachers' salaries.
"We welcome this statement from Malacañang and we hope that the President will use his influence and power to make this statement a reality," said TDC National Chair Benjo Basas, adding that state teachers "patiently waited" for their turn after the pay raise given to uniformed personnel.
"For the longest time, our calls for a just compensation and treatment commensurate to our role in society have been neglected by previous administrations. We hope that this time, things would really change," he said.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio also welcomed Duterte's announcement, saying the minimum salary for government employees should be raised by not less than P16,000.
"As long-time advocates for decent pay, we welcome the statement coming from the Palace that President Duterte wants to increase the salaries of public school teachers... Our teachers deserve nothing less. We eagerly await the formal proposal from the DBM," Tinio said in a statement Tuesday.
He, however, said the teachers' pay hike should not be anchored on the passage of the administration's second tax reform package.
"... [W]e do object to the Palace spokesperson claiming that the hike in teachers' salaries will depend on the passage of the administration's second tax reform proposal. This is a new propaganda line, since the Department of Finance has always said that the administration's tax reform proposals are meant to fund infrastructure, not teachers' pay hikes," Tinio said, calling the administration's tax reform agenda "anti-poor."
The DepEd, in its Order No. 38-2017, earlier gave the go signal to deduct payments for Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and private loans from teachers' salaries.
Since the order's release on July 31, several teachers have received salaries below the mandated net take-home pay (NTHP) of P4,000. One public school teacher told ABS-CBN News that her NTHP went down to P180.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones has defended Order 38, saying public school teachers now owe GSIS some P120 billion and private lending institutions some P170 billion.