MANILA, Philippines — Three-term Senator and now Senatorial candidate Loren Legarda reiterated the importance and value of teachers and non-teaching personnel in improving the education system in the Philippines.
Legarda joined the Ang Senador at Ang Edukasyon: Senatorial Forum organized by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) which aimed to discuss Senatorial Aspirants’ plans and platform for the education sector. When asked how she intends to improve access and the quality of education in the country over the next six years, Legarda said that improving the education system would not only mean having good infrastructure and facilities for school children but also addressing the needs of teachers and non-teaching personnel.
“Ang salary grade ng entry level public school teachers ay Salary Grade 11 lamang na nasa mahigit P25,000 sa kasalukuyang Salary Standardization tranche. Naitaas na po natin ang sweldo ng mga military and uniformed personnel, gayundin ang ating mga nurses. We also have to push for a competitive salary for our teachers. I had previously filed bills for the upgrading of teachers’ salaries when I was at the Senate. I filed it again in the House of Representatives, and I am going to continue pushing for the approval of this long-overdue measure that is so important to the teaching profession,” Legarda said.
As then Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Legarda initiated and sponsored vital amendments for the welfare of Filipino teachers. Through Legarda’s intervention, the chalk allowance was increased from Php1,000 to Php1,500 per teacher in 2015. It was raised to Php2,500 in 2017 and to Php3,500 in 2018. In 2019, all public school teachers received for the first time, their World Teachers’ Day incentive now given every 5th of October, after Legarda allocated P 800 million under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“I have always pushed for the better welfare of our teachers because we owe much of our achievements to them. We must promote and advance the social, economic, and professional status of teachers and non-teaching personnel as they all play an invaluable role in national development,” Legarda said.
The former senator also co-authored the proposed Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, which aims to provide security of tenure, adequate wages, and substantive rights related to gender equality, among others. Legarda also co-authored the Magna Carta for Private School Teachers to address the welfare of teachers in private institutions.
Legarda also expressed her support for all the teachers who are seeking right compensation for teaching overload and overtime pay, particularly this year since it was not included in the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA). She committed to coordinating with the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that the efforts of teachers beyond their mandate are well compensated.
“Aside from their teaching duties, teachers are likewise most reliable in serving the general welfare. They go beyond their duties in the classroom, notably when they serve during election period and when they aid the Philippine Statistics Authority in gathering data from households across the country,” Legarda said.
“Amid the pandemic, preparation of self-learning modules for students, aside from adjusting to the blended learning system, ensuring compliance to their reportorial requirement, and attending to various online trainings, while facilitating the extended Brigada Eskwela, Oplan Balik Eskwela, enrolment, and other related activities, were added to their tasks,” Legarda added.
Legarda further shared several laws and bills she filed that would support the improvement of the education system. Among these are the: (a) Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act; (b) RA 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013; (c) the HB 10405 or the One Tablet, One Student Act; and, (d) HB 7034 which aims to provide a monthly internet allowance for all public school teachers, among others.
“We should guarantee our teachers adequate support to motivate them more. I have championed laws and programs for the expansion of benefits and incentives, and the strengthening of professional development programs of our teachers since my first term in the Senate and I will continue to push for the greater welfare of our unsung heroes, ” Legarda concluded.