MANILA - The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved on second reading a bill that would increase to P5,000 public school teachers' allowance for school supplies starting next year.
While the Senate knows that teachers would need more than P5,000 for their expenses for online and distance-learning classes, the government "cannot afford" to give "drastic" increases, said Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., who sponsored the bill in plenary.
"P1,500 [increase] lang ang kaya so for 2 school years, magiging P5,000 ang cash allowance," he said.
(We can only afford to increase it by P1,500 so for 2 school years, the cash allowance will be P5,000.)
Under Senate Bill No. 1092, teachers' school supplies allowance will be increased to the following levels accordingly:
- SY 2021 - P5,000
- SY 2023 - P7,500
- SY 2024 - P10,000
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon initially wanted to hike the allowance to P20,000, but eventually relented as he recognized the "reality" that government expects lower tax collections in the next few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and several new tax measures.
"We recognize the need of our teachers to have this allowance because of the changes of the nature of their function because of the pandemic," Drilon said.
"They may need more funds than the P5,000 proposed by the sponsor... but with the reality we are facing today... we agreed to spreading out the proposed increase to 2023," he said.
"I think it takes into account the fiscal burden we are facing in the next 2 years," he said.
So far, public school teachers have been receiving a P3,500-allowance each year.
Lawmakers expect the additional fund to aid educators in purchasing load or internet plans needed for online classes, while students are still barred from physically coming to school to avoid contracting COVID-19.