Teachers 'in debt' due to lack of benefits, group says

Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2023 04:35 PM

MANILA — Some teachers are "in debt" due to lack of certain benefits, such as sick leave and medical expenses, a teachers' group said Wednesday.

Ruby Bernardo, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers' (ACT) chapter in the National Capital Region, shared this during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, where Sen. Bong Revilla opened discussions to amend Republic Act No. 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

At the hearing, Bernardo asked the legislator and government to strictly implement and improve the provision granting free medical treatment to teachers.

"Sa usapin po ng medical and free treatment doon sa mga teachers kasi nakalagay po iyan sa existing magna carta. Pero dahil wala nga pong ngipin, hindi po siya napapatupad," said Bernardo.

(The magna carta includes medical and free treatment for teachers. But because the law lacks teeth, it's not implemented.)

"Kasi 'pag nagkasakit po kami, dahil wala nga po kaming at least iyong medical card, wala po iyan, ma-absent-an pa kami. Iyan ang dahilan kung bakit nababaon sa utang iyong mga teachers natin," she explained.

(When we get sick, because we don't have a medical card at least, we're marked absent from work. That's a reason why our teachers are buried in debt.)

The joint committee hearing also tackled bills that aim to provide additional benefits for teachers, including Senate Bill No. 564, which would grant grocery, a transportation allowance of P3,000 and medical allowance of P2,000.

Bernardo welcomed the move since teachers are granted only 15 service credits per year, which can be used to file leaves.

"Wala po kaming sick leave. Kapag um-absent po kami, kaltas po iyan sa sahod namin," she said.

(We don't have a sick leave. That's why when we are absent, we get salary deductions.)

Gilbert Sadsad, president of the Philippine Public School Teachers Association, said teachers have long been wishing for an ample medical allowance.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it has yet to submit its official position paper, but it is conducting further study on granting additional grocery, transportation, and medical allowance to teachers.

The Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education, meanwhile, expressed support for the bill.

Earl Lusito, supervising administrative officer from DepEd's Bureau of Human Resources and Organizational Development, said the agency has been granting various allowances to teachers.

"Aside from the cash allowance and the different allowances din po, mayroon din po tayong special hardship allowance naibigay sa ating mga kaguruan, lalo na doon sa mga challenging areas natin," Lusito said.

(Aside from the cash allowance and different allowances, we also have a special hardship allowance for teachers, especially those in challenging areas.)

Lusito added that DepEd has been proposing additional administrative positions to the DBM to relieve teachers from clerical tasks.

Revilla assured that lawmakers would do their best to "institutionalize" the teaching supply or "chalk" allowance for teachers, which they are proposing to raise to P10,000 from P5,000.


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