THOUSANDS of public school teachers nationwide stand to lose their lawful share from programmed appropriations, agency savings and the P117 billion miscellaneous personnel benefit fund lump sum allotment in this year’s national budget, a teachers’ group said on Monday.
According to the Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers (Assert), some 600,000 public school teachers and instructors of vocational-technical schools, learning centers and state universities and colleges will not benefit from the state workers fund if concerned education and budget agencies continue to ignore appeals to enforce laws and regulations providing special hardship and hazard pay to teacher beneficiaries in times of difficulties and calamities.
The group voiced its fears after Malacañang issued on December 18, 2015 Proclamation No. 1186 placing the whole country under state of calamity due to the widespread destruction left by typhoon Nona (international codename: Melor).
Before typhoon Lando left the country, Malacañang had already declared most devastated provinces in Regions I, II, III, and CAR under state of calamity. It had done the same thing to Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Albay, Romblon, and Oriental Mindoro at the aftermath of typhoon Nona before declaring a state of national calamity.
The proclamation will not only help hasten rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation efforts but will also give government ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds where needed in accordance with law.
“And this is the irony of it all. While the proclamations are supposed to speed up and help ensure the timely, unhampered and efficient delivery of goods, money, and services to the victims of disasters, Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) have been making teachers’ availment of their legally mandated benefits selective and discriminatory, if not downright confiscatory,” Shiela Manuel, Assert-NCR president, said.
Manuel earlier accused top education officials of wasting taxpayers’ money and public resources in review meetings that came out with nothing but revised guidelines meant to render existing laws like the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers and DepEd implementing rules useless and meaningless by their wrong interpretation.
She noted that DepEd officials have deliberately excluded Presidential declarations of state of calamity as basis for the grant of hardship and hazard pay to state mentors.
“Under the Magna Carta, teachers assigned to hardship and hazardous posts shall be compensated special hardship allowance equivalent to 25 percent of their monthly salary. Rule VII, Section 1.b (2) of the DepEd Rules and Section 3.2.2 of DBM NBC No. 514 S. 2007, on the other hand, expressly included areas declared calamitous by the President as basis for the grant,” the Marikina teacher said.
Assert National Secretary General Fidel Fababier said education and budget officials are being discriminatory by deliberately distorting the law and their own rules to generate huge savings for themselves and their pet projects.
Under Section 46 of this year’s General Appropriations Act and previous budget legislations, the Secretary of Education may use savings to augment allotments to existing programs and projects under his office, subsidize foreign trips and travels and monetize accumulated leave credits only of officials and support personnel of the department, he said.