MANILA - The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Thursday challenged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to a debate on pay hikes for teachers.
ACT said in a press statement that teachers are "fed up" with the education chief's "distortion of facts, malicious innuendos and endless alibis" to downplay the issue of salary increase.
“Sec. Briones is relentless in crusading against teachers’ pay hike, lately speaking before a conference of private school owners and giving media interviews in a bid to invalidate the bases of our just demand for better pay," ACT chairperson Joselyn Martinez said.
"Why doesn’t she tell these things in front of us teachers and give us the equal opportunity to refute her claims and prove her wrong?” she said.
Martinez was referring to Briones' previous statement that teachers receive allowances amounting to 5 or 6 figures from local government units. She said it was "the latest fabrication of the secretary to make it appear that teachers enjoy many perks, thus are not urgently in need of salary increase."
“The fact is, only a minority of public school teachers get allowances from local governments, usually those in cities can afford such and at varying amounts, but its yearly sum would surely not exceed 15% of the teachers’ annual salaries,” Martinez said.
Martinez also slammed Briones for calling summer vacation leaves as one of the "exclusive benefits of teachers."
"We have no regular salaries during summer vacation. What we get is the proportional vacation pay, which we earn by diligently completing the school days. The summer pay would even be deducted if we have absences during school days,” she explained.
ACT announced it is preparing teachers for a protest rally during President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on July 22 to remind him about his promise of a pay hike for teachers.
Public school teachers have been clamoring for a significant increase in their salaries following pay hikes for police officers, soldiers, and other uniformed personnel in 2018.
Briones had said that the government would have to shell out some P150 billion if it would give public school teachers a salary increase of P10,000 per month.