MANILA - The Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) on Thursday reminded President Rodrigo Duterte of his election campaign promise to raise the salary of educators after the government allowed loan payments to be deducted from their pay.
The Department of Education, in its Order No. 38-2017, gave the go signal to deduct payments for Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and private loans from teachers' salaries.
Since the order's release on July 31, several teachers have received salaries below the mandated net take-home pay (NTHP) of P4,000. One public school teacher told ABS-CBN News that her NTHP went down to P180.
Teachers would not have needed to take loans if they were earning more than their P21,000 starting pay, said Benjo Basas, spokesperson of TDC.
"The President promised us since December of 2015 na 'pag nanalo sila, Duterte-Cayetano, itataas niya, ibibigay nila ang hinihingi naming P10,000 across-the-board na umento para sa ating mga guro sa DepEd," Basas told DZMM.
(The President promised us since December 2015 that if he and his then running mate Alan Peter Cayetano win, they would give us a P10,000 across-the-board wage increase.)
He urged DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones to remind the President of his promise, instead of claiming that teachers are paid enough.
"Noong nakaraang Hunyo ay sinabi ni Secretary [Leonor] Briones na teachers are not underpaid ay masakit po sa amin ito. Ang kailangan namin talaga ay ang suporta ng aming ina sa Department of Education... dahil kapag nagsalita ang kalihim for the teachers, of course ito ay malaking tinig para sa ating mga mambabatas."
(Last June, Secretary Briones said teachers were not underpaid and that's hurtful for us. We need the support of our mother in DepEd because if the secretary speaks for us, her voice would have a big impact on our lawmakers.)
Briones meanwhile defended Order 38, saying public school teachers now owe GSIS some P120 billion and private lending institutions some P170 billion.
"That's more than P300 billion na total utang nila... Ang DepEd, obligado kasi may authority sila na mag-deduct sa private lending institution na utang, i-deduct ang GSIS na utang," she said in a separate DZMM interview.
(That's a total loan of P300 billion. The DepEd is obligated to settle this because we have the authority to deduct private and GSIS loans from the salaries of teachers.)
Educators, Briones added, could face criminal charges and lose their teaching license for failing to settle their debt.
DepEd leaders will meet Thursday on how to resolve the issue, she said.
Hours ahead of the meeting, several teachers banged empty pots in front of the DepEd office in Pasig to protest the loan deductions.