ACT-led teachers mark school opening with protest

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

AT LEAST 2,000 public school teachers in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental marked the first day of classes on Monday with a march-rally to call for a salary increase.

The teachers, wearing black arm bands, marched along Araneta St. and gathered in front of the Old City Hall of Bacolod following their classes late in the afternoon.

Gualberto Dajao, regional president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said they are holding a protest action to show the National Government that they are disappointed with the present administration.


He said that in almost four years of his administration, President Benigno Aquino III never brought good news to the teachers.

“In spite of the continued increase in the prices of basic goods and services, we haven’t received any good news from the National Government,” Dajao added.

He said that public schools still lack books, classrooms and teachers because of the neglect of the government.

“They declared that they have addressed the said problem, but the truth is there are no changes under the administration of President Aquino,” Dajao said.

He added: “We are wearing black arm bands to show that we are mourning our situation,” he said.

Dajao cited that although teachers are receiving P18,000 as basic salary, 49 percent of teachers in Western Visayas are receiving only P6,000 and below as take home pay.

“We urge the National Government to approve the salary increase from P18,000 to P25,000, and for non-teaching personnel from P9,000 to P15, 000,” he said.

Dajao said Malacañang had earlier said the government doesn’t have enough budget for the salary increase for teachers, but he said they are not asking for salary increase this year but in 2015.

He added that the President should act on House Bill 245 filed by Act Teachers party-list seeking salary increase for teachers.

“He should certify it as an urgent bill in Congress,” Dajao said.

Melba Apelo-Sanchez, vice-president of the Teacher’s League of Rodolfo Medel Elementary School in Bacolod City, said they are diligently paying their taxes and they take pride in their noble profession, however, they are protesting because House Bill 245 has been taken for granted.

“We are only asking to increase the teachers’ salary to P25,000. We’re not like other government employees such those in the Philippine National Police who are given too much attention,” she said.

‘Consider concerns of students’

While public school teachers have their own concerns, particularly on their salary, they should also consider the concerns of the students who would be affected if they will continue to hold protest actions, a Palace official said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the statement following threat by the members of the ACT to go on mass leave if President Benigno Aquino III refused to grant their call for salary increase.

"We understand their concerns but I hope that the teachers will consider the concerns of the students. Our concern right now, with respect to the wages, it's not limited actually to the teachers. Kasi when you're speaking of government employees, which includes teachers as well, we require a Salary Standardization Law from Congress and this should be best addressed with the legislative branch," he said in a regular press briefing in Malacañang.

While it would be up to Congress to come up with another Salary Standardization Law, Lacierda said that the administration has to determine its possible impact on the national budget. (With reports from Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 03, 2014.

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