A group that advocates for teacher’s rights called on the Department of Education to release the delayed benefits of public school teachers amid the still raging pandemic.
In a statement on October 27, the Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers (ASSERT) stated that 1,446 public school teachers have tested or died of COVID-19 without receiving the promised benefits.
Members of the group also staged a protest in front of DepEd’s main office in Pasig City on the same day.
“The initial list is part of the long unreported and uncompensated number of DepEd field personnel that the secretary asked the group to submit to her office after the latter had reported the alarming cases of the viral infection hitting the public education sector the last 19 months in last October 11 virtual dialogue,” the group said.
ASSERT further alleged that the government had “abandoned” more than 900,000 public school teachers and education support personnel in the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic since last year.
“We also raise our lingering concerns over our government’s long criminal neglect, if not total abandonment, of its more than 900,000 public school teachers and education support personnel who daily bear the brunt of the new education normal,” they said.
The group specified 364,824 public education frontline workers in Luzon who “have long been exposed to various forms of hardship and hazards in disaster areas ravaged by typhoons, massive flooding, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, epidemic outbreaks, armed conflicts, other natural and man-made calamities.”
These workers continued to be denied of their benefits “through clever manipulations and simple bureaucratic inaction,” they added.
ASSERT also criticized the annual general appropriations act where their allocations were lumped in miscellaneous personnel benefit fund (MPBF) and unprogrammed appropriations.
“Their unbundlement has been unduly frustrated by agency officials’ deliberate non- performance of their reportorial duties, thus, giving rise to agency underspending,” they said.
“Let it be made clear that we are not asking for more in terms of budgetary allocations. We are only asking for the immediate release and prompt payment of what have long been due us by operation of law, our Magna Carta and our yearly GAA,” they added.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers-National Capital Region also staged a Halloween-themed protest in front of DepEd to demand for overtime compensation and other economic benefits for teachers.
The group likened overworked teachers to “zombies” and the education department as the grim reaper.
“Habang ala-zombie na ang mga guro sa walang-tigil na patrabaho ng DepEd o mga manananggal na halos hatiin ang katawan sa dami ng gawain, para namang si Kamatayan ang ahensya sa pilit nitong paglilibing sa limot ng kanyang tungkulin sa wastong kompensasyon, proteksyon, at kalinga sa mga guro at kawani,” ACT NCR Union President Vladimer Quetua said.
Last October 6, Rep. Luis Campos Jr. (Makati City, 2nd district) said that the government has already allotted P910 million for the grant of World Teachers’ Day Incentive Benefit (WTDIB).
World Teacher’s Day is observed every October 5.
Campos also stated that P925 million is allotted for the WTDIB in the 2022 national budget.