MANILA - Wearing gowns and bearing titles such as "Reyna Abonada," "Reyna Walang Pahinga," and "Reyna Alay," teachers on Friday held a "protesta de Mayo" urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to grant their benefits.
The educators held the protest in front of DepEd's main building in Pasig, and described these benefits as "long overdue."
Raymond Basilio, secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said the group wanted to depict their real situation in the middle of the pandemic.
Due to the health crisis, however, teachers and students are supposedly still swamped with school work, without ample help from the government.
"Pinaka-urgent po na maibigay na sa mga guro iyong 2019 na Performance Based Bonus (PBB) at iyong internet allowance ng ating mga teachers. Since June po, nagtatrabaho ang ating mga teachers. Sagot sagot nila ang mga gastusin na ito. Utang po ito ng gobyerno kaya kailangan po nilang bayaran," said Basilio.
(The most urgent that they should give to teachers is the 2019 performance based bonus and the internet allowance. Our educators are working since June and they have shouldered these expenses. This is something that the government should pay.)
Teachers also asked DepEd to give definite answers to their calls for a salary increase, noting that they never had an opportunity to air their grievances with the agency.
"Never po kaming nagkaroon ng direktang pagkakaroon ng pag-uusap sa departamento. Ang sabi lang po nila, nakikinig sila sa aming mga pahayag through social media. Sana po ay magkaroon ng mas maayos na pag-uusap upang mailinaw ng mga guro, mailinaw din ng departamento iyong kanyang mga polisiya," said Basilio.
(We never had a direct opportunity to talk with them. They told us that they are listening through our grievances on social media but we hope that their would be a direct line so we can talk about our problems as we also seek clarifications on their policies.)
Rizza Bantilan, a teacher for 19 years, posed as "Reyna Walang Pahinga" at the protest, as she recounted the struggles of teaching amid the pandemic.
"24/7, naka-online kami. Walang pahinga, nago-overtime, sa dami ng trabaho ng mga teachers para sa pagtuturo," she said.
"Dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ang mga panawagan ng mga guro para makatugon din kami sa hinihingi nila sa amin."
(We are online 24/7. We can't rest, we are always overtime because we are swamped with our work as teachers. They should listen to us and hear our concerns.)
Teachers are seeking for the safe reopening of schools through vaccination of faculty and other school personnel, and the gradual conduct of limited face to face classes.
In earlier pronouncements, DepEd said teachers would soon get their performance-based bonuses after the agency was declared eligible for the annual incentive.
The agency is also preparing requirements for the processing of PBB 2020.
DepEd said it would also release their connectivity load next month, which will "provide public school teachers with 30 to 35 GB data allocation per month."
Meanwhile, youth groups also held a protest at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Main Building in Quezon City to push for a "P10,000 student aid" and the safe reopening of classes."
In a statement, Kej Andres, national spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), said CHED's existing gadget assistance is not enough to provide for the needs of students.
"Higit na kailangan ng mga estudyante ang ayuda ngayon lalo na't may kinakaharap pa rin tayong krisis pangkalusugan, kung saan marami ang nawalan ng trabaho at marami ang patuloy na naghihikahos dahil sa pagtaas pa rin ng matrikula kahit na may pandemya," said Andres.
(We are in urgent need of financial assistance most especially we are in the middle of the pandemic, where a lot of people already lost their jobs and are struggling due to the high cost of education)
Earlier, CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera said the government has extended aid to "over two million students" amid the pandemic, through giving free tuition and miscellaneous fee, scholarship programs, and subsidies to students nationwide.