MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has given itself two weeks to respond to the grievances of college teachers displaced by the K-12 program.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello made the promise Tuesday afternoon after an hours-long dialogue with several affected college teachers and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio.
The group said that despite safety nets by the government, the K-12 program still led to the loss of security of tenure of education workers, and also loss of jobs and benefits that extended to their family members.
Among those who raised their concerns were a number of general education teachers of Miriam College who were retrenched prior to the opening of the new school year.
"The way Miriam treated us, they treated us like dirt. Tinapon lang kami. Walang pagpapahalaga sa ibinigay namin all these years that we had been serving Miriam," said Dr. Rebecca Añonuevo, retrenched faculty head of Miriam College.
She said the school justified the retrenchment in the name of "long-term sustainability" as it was afraid of the losses it would incur because of decreased enrollment due to K-12.
"Walang option na binigay sa amin. Ang sabi lang they wanted to avoid the losses. Ang ginawa nila, early separation," Añonuevo said.
"Nakakabahala ang nangyayari kasi highly qualified na professionals ito na dahil sa K-12 nawawalan sila ng trabaho," ACT Rep. Tinio said, as he asked the Labor Department to intervene.
"Ang retrenchment magagawa lang kapag nalulugi na talaga ang negosyo. In this case, may enrollment pa rin, ang ebidensya naghahire pa rin ng tao para magturo pero contractual ang pinapalit sa regular."
The Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines said many schools have used K-12 to contractualize education workers.
"While nagtatanggal sila ng guro, at the same time they are hiring new teachers to teach the same subjects. Although ang sinasabi nila palagi they have to retrench, remove these teachers dahil kulang ang enrollment," Rene Tadle told Bello.
He added that retrenched teachers have been offered to come back and teach but only as contractual employees, with lower pay and no benefits.
"We are more hopeful this time na bibigyan ng tuon. Kasi si Presidente Duterte ay against sa contractualization. Kasi ang resulta ng K-12 the way it is being implemented now actually leads to contractualization," Tadle said.
Bello said that he will look into these complaints.
"Pag-aaralan namin ang mga complaints nila, grievances raised by them," he said. "We will call the schools mentioned by them: Miriam College, San Sebastian, St. Louis University. We will invite them for some clarifications on actions taken by them."