MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he merely speculated that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to double the salaries of public school teachers.
His statement comes after Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Roque made a mistake in making such a claim since it was not discussed during a Cabinet meeting.
"My statement was 'I am not sure how much the increase ...... judging from the military and police....... could be double. No mistake there since I said I do not know by how much and speculated only," Roque told Palace reporters.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Roque said 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.
"He did not say how much but he says that they will have to be tangible results of any implementation of the second tax reform package and he said that that should be the increase in teachers’ salary," he said.
"But judging by what he wanted for the PNP and the AFP, it could be that he is also aiming to double the entry salary for teachers," he added.
However, Diokno said doubling the pay of the 880,000 public school teachers would require an additional P337 billion on the part of government.
"Ang konteksto nung tanong kaninang umaga ay dodoblehin ang sweldo. Sabi ko ay imposible yan. Alam mo magkano, how much that would cost us? 337 billion (pesos). Ganun kalaki dahil we have 880,000 teachers," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Bandila.
The budget chief noted that public school teachers will receive salary increases this year as the 4-year salary standardization law takes effect. "May increase sila in the 2018 budget and next year meron na naman."
He said a public school teacher at Teacher 1 entry level will get 26,876 pesos monthly, which is higher than the salaries of some private school teachers.
He added that public school teachers will also get "52,250 pesos additional money in their pocket a year" as a result of the TRAIN law.
"So yun lang ang konteksto, nung sinabing dodoblehin. Hindi naman sinabi yun ni Presidente sa Gabinete. Kasi in-interpret lang ni Harry Roque na dodoblehin. Nadoble yung sa mga sundalo kasi ang umpisa na sweldo ng mga sundalo napakababa talaga," he said.
The Department of Education earlier said public school teachers' monthly salaries range from P19,620 to P47,779.