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Norhainah B. Guinungco

· Volume I Issue I

We all believe that the success and road to prominence of every country in the world depends on the height of education obtained by its citizens through good education from kinder level up to tertiary level. That is the real benchmark by which we can judge the future of any country.

The Philippines was the first country in Asia which gained its freedom and independence from the colonizers, and yet it is now at the tail compared to other Asian countries due to some causes which are not hard to understand.

One of the priority plans of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is an increase of the salary of public teachers after the increases of the salary of the Military and the Police. He has spoken of it on several occasions.

In the 2019 SONA of the President, he mentioned again his request Congress to approve a new version of the Salary Standardization Law. I quote him as follows:

“I therefore believe that it is now time for Congress to approve a new version of the Salary Standardization Law. Ngayon na. [applause] And to the teachers, alam mo dito who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young.”

“Kasali na po dito 'yung hinihingi ninyo. Hindi naman masyadong malaki, pero it will tide you over during these hard times. A little bit bigger than before. [applause] This is intended to increase the salaries of national government workers, including teachers and nurses. Nurses, correct. [applause]”

His promise for the military and police has been already realized. But the Increment of teachers’ salaries remains hanging. One of the reasons is the huge number of teachers which means the cost would be billions of Pesos per month. But that amount is more than attainable if the government controls corruption in all offices of the government, because the amount to be devoured by corruption is bigger than that needed for teachers.

The amount of the salary increase for teachers was the amount stated in the House Bill No. 195 which seeks to provide an across-the-board increase of salary and other benefits for public school teachers to attract highly qualified people to work in government schools.
“The responsibility of molding a child to become a productive Filipino citizen lies heavily in the hands of a teacher. This is the delicate duty that teachers have committed in their line of work being intimately connected with building the nation's future. Despite this, however, existing laws are still unresponsive to their plight of enduring a measly salary as compensation for their work,” bill author and Deputy House Speaker Romero "Miro" Quimbo said in a statement Sunday, July 31.
“Even with the enactment of Republic Act No. 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, the social and economic status, as well as the living and working conditions of teachers, have remained the same, if not worsened,” he added.
Acknowledging the state’s duty to prioritize budget allocation for education, the measure will cover all teaching personnel in all public schools in elementary, secondary and tertiary levels including technical and vocational schools.

Teachers’ salaries would be increased by P15,000 per month, regardless of their employment status and position, and would be based on the existing policies of the Department of Education on merit selection and promotion. Teachers hired for the first time will also be exempted from income tax for one year.

Aside from these, the bill also calls for the creation of a pension fund for teachers who have been in service for 15 years.

There is little doubt that teachers are the government employees who render more time in their services as instructors of the learners than any other employees. Aside from their full-time teaching in the class, they also use their time at home to correct and review the papers of the learners. In other words, they sacrifice a lot of time for the welfare of the learners.

Other employees serve their offices ten hours a day for five days only, and the rest of their time is for their weekend recreation with their loved ones.

It is also no doubt that the salaries of teachers in the Philippines is very low compared to the salary of teachers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, China and Japan.

To solve the economical problems of teachers, the Government must find a way to fulfill its promise to uplift the welfare of the teachers through a salary increment. If the government does this, teachers will fulfill their services perfectly and will also go the extra mile in fulfilling their task as instructors of the learners. Fewer teachers would then go abroad to find a good job there for the survival of their families in the Philippines.

The big obstacle against realizing the plan is the rampant corruption in our government as mentioned above not the unavailability of huge amount to be paid for the teachers. All Filipinos believe that corruption is a chronic illness that infects most of our officials in the government from the highest post down to barangay level. This is a fact that no one can deny, and the mindset of the Filipinos is poisoned by that kind of bad behavior.

If the government of President Duterte succeeds in its plan to stop corruption, our plans to uplift the lives of the Filipino is very attainable. Because our revenue would be more than sufficient to solve our financial problems.

If we compare our education standards with those of other Southeast Asian countries, we will find that our education is excellent, although the salary of teachers here is very low. How much better would it be if we compete with the salaries in other countries? The result of the future of our education would be better.

We Filipinos need badly the cleansing of our mindset and love of corruption as more than the love of an addict man to drug. Our future as a nation will be doomed physically, morally, mentally, economically, educationally, religiously and politically if we fail to curtail corruption and drug syndicates because no nation on earth could be successful if it is captive to two epidemics.

If we examine our lives as Filipinos, we will find that we are dependent on the mercy of politicians because everything depends on politics and politicians. Employment is the main sources of livelihood of the masses. Although we sing day and night that the Philippines is an agricultural country, that claim is a slogan even if it is largely true, because the mindset of most citizens longs to gain money without effort from them, and tilling the land is hard work and a slow way of gaining fortune and wealth. Added that the government is incapable of supporting the farmers in their lands but prefers the importing of rice from Thailand and Vietnam since it is cheap and a source of revenue through taxes in custom and that is another source of corruption also. For that reason, I am sceptical of the programs of the government calling the masses to support it for them to progress, because its endeavors are always against what it calls for.

This is our condition as a nation, believe me or not!