04 May 2009

A Useless Bill at the Teacher's Expense

Photo courtesy of SRNHS ANNEX
Filipino public school teachers have long suffered because of wages that pay them lower than that of a police officer or a soldier. Taking into account the rising food prices and unstable economic environment, their basic pay can hardly supply the needs of a family of five on average.

Hence, Senate Bill No. 2408 proposes an increase of around PhP 9,000.00 over three years the basic minimum basic pay for the public school teachers. The bill seeks to raise from Salary Grade 10 to Salary Grade 19 the entry-level pay for all teachers in the public school system.

>However, the lower chamber wants to dilute all of that. House Joint Resolution No. 24, authored by no less than Speaker Prospero Nograles himself, proposes to provide teachers with only PhP 6,000.00 and spread over four years.

Now, they may argue that PhP 3,000.00 is not that much in today's prices, but right now that amount is just enough to buy two sacks of rice and that is all what the teachers want for all their sacrifices. And to emphasize the half-baked nature of this farcical proposal, allies of the Speaker reckon that those who are entitled to this measly increase can realize the fruit of their labor spread in four years.

If the lower chamber of Congress cannot be trusted to give the right benefit to those who deserve them, can they do anything right? After years of obfuscations, digressions and chaos in the session hall, the lawmakers are climbing down over the issue whenever they have a chance to vote on it just like what they are doing with the Reproductive Health bill.

What the lawmakers in the lower chamber are so busy right now and hell-bent in forcing the public to accept is their proposal to tinker with the present system through constitutional change. They want to be the ones who will decide on a measure that could extend their term and that or the President for who-knows how long. If anybody thinks this is the most self-serving proposal the country have right now, then think again because the greedy in office wants more. They are also proposing to double their salary from PhP 48,915 to PhP 91,000 a month (Joint Resolution 24) and plans to increase their number to accommodate their relatives who did not have a chance to get elected, but also wants to get their hands on the taxpayers money (House Bill 5962).

The proposal to lower the benefits that public school teachers deserved is creating a crazy situation in Congress because it implies that men and women who have served with distinction have failed to impress those who have the power of the purse. However, every Tom, Dick and Harry who gets elected despite having mistresses and jueteng operators in their deep pockets are being welcomed with open arms without question and immediately given enough benefits to feed a barangay.

Maybe the public school teachers will not vote for the ruling party, hence they are being disgracefully treated. Does the word gratitude have any meaning at all in the halls of Congress?

In any case, the whole issue seems to have been buried and forgotten in the pages of the daily newspapers. In a few weeks, this disastrous measure will not even make it to the classified ads. Hopefully, national election will be called soon and public school teachers supervising the election precincts can sway the public to vote for those who really are deserving.