Teachers hit Erwin Tulfo's favoritism remark; Sara Duterte willing to work with DSWD

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2022 05:59 PM | Updated as of Aug 25 2022 07:12 PM

DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo; Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News 
DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo; Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News 

 Tulfo 'taken out of context', seeks understanding: DSWD official

MANILA — Teachers' groups on Thursday cried foul over Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo's remark that educators might display favoritism should they be assigned to distribute the government's cash assistance for students.

"Isa itong napaka-iresponsableng pahayag mula sa iresponsableng opisyal na utak ng palpak na sistema ng pamamahagi ng ayuda para sa mga estudyante," Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Chairperson Vladimer Quetua said in a statement.

(This is an irresponsible statement from an irresponsible official who is behind the failed system of distributing aid for our students.)

"Sir, you cannot cover up your own failures by nitpicking on others. Huwag kami," he said, addressing Tulfo.

Quetua was referring to the chaotic distribution of the educational cash assistance in several Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) offices over the weekend, which Tulfo has since apologized for.

On Wednesday, Tulfo explained why the DSWD did not tap the DepEd to distribute the cash assistance, as suggested by many parents.

He said some teachers may be accused of favoring some students. 

"Baka maulit na naman na may pinaburan si teacher dahil pinsan niya ‘yung estudyante niya. Eh alam niyo naman po ‘yung mga teacher natin. Do’n lang nakatira sa paligid-ligid. Baka na naman ma-accuse na naman ho ang mga teacher, kawawa naman," he said.

(It may be a repeat of an instance where a teacher favors a student because they are cousins. You know our teachers. They just live in the area. Our teachers might be accused, it would be a pity.)

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Quetua said "our teachers do not want the job," noting how government agencies have tapped teachers for various duties "that take away time from teaching," such as serving in the elections.

"Some of these duties we are compensated, while in some, we are not, but at least the other agencies and the past DSWD secretaries are grateful enough for our help," he said.

Teachers' Dignity Coalition Chairperson Benjo Basas said it was "hurtful" to hear Tulfo's remark.

"Parang sinasabi niyang mandaraya ang mga guro at nagbibigay ng pabor sa mga kamag-anak. Eh wala naman kaming kontrol sa mga programa na 'yan kung sakali, we only facilitate and work based on the policies," Basas said in a statement.

(It's like he is saying that our teachers are cheaters and favor their relatives. We don't have control over those programs, if ever. We only facilitate and work based on the policies.)

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, meanwhile, praised teachers for "their dedication and commitment to public service," which she said "go beyond self-interest."

"They embody selflessness and their love of country and fellowmen is something that cannot be questioned," Duterte said in a statement that did not mention Tulfo's remarks.

Duterte said the DepEd was still willing to work "with other national government agencies, such as the DSWD, especially for programs aimed to benefit our learners and teachers."

Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said Tulfo's remark was "taken out of context" and that he did not intend to "insinuate" that teachers engage in favoritism.

"Hindi naman 'yon 'yong buod ng gusto niyang sabihin. Ang sinasabi niya (Tulfo) ayaw na niya idamay 'yong mga teacher kasi pagod na, maraming workload, tapos ito nga, baka mapagbintangan pa kapag nagkaproblema," Lopez said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News.

(That was not the gist of what he wanted to say. What's he saying is he doesn't want to involve the teachers because they're already tired, they have plenty of workload, and they might be accused of wrongdoing in case a problem arises.)

"Hindi naman niya ini-insinuate na 'yong teachers namin nai-involve sa favoritism. Inilalayo nga niya," Lopez said.

(He wasn't insinuating that teachers will be involved in favoritism. He's trying to distance them from that.)

While the DSWD respects the reaction of teachers' groups, Lopez said, "Hindi po iyon ang ibig sabihin ni Secretary Erwin. Humihingi siya ng pang-unawa."

"Sana maintindihan nila na hindi 'yon ang nais iparating ng aming kalihim," he added. 

(That wasn't what Secretary Erwin meant. He is asking for understanding. We hope they could understand what our secretary wanted to say.) 

— With a report from Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News