DESPITE possible delay in the implementation of last and fourth tranche of salary hike for government workers, President Rodrigo Duterte renewed on Thursday, January 10, his pledge to increase the salary of teachers this year.
In a speech delivered in Bulakan, Bulacan, Duterte vowed before the teachers that he would do his best to further raise the public school teacher's pay.
The President said he already discussed with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno the possible increase in teachers' salaries.
"I was talking to Diokno at the year-end to find out how things are could be afford[ed]," Duterte said during the groundbreaking of General Gregorio del Pilar National High School in Bulakan, Bulacan.
He assured the teachers, in the presence of Education Secretary Leonor Briones, that he could craft any kind of "document" containing his promise to raise the salary of public school teachers.
Duterte, however, did not clarify whether the planned pay hike for teachers was different from the expected salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL).
He, however, hinted that there would be another increase, on top of the anticipated pay hike for government workers in 2019, as he noted that teachers would be "next in line" to the military and police personnel, who were previously granted double pay.
"Inuna ko 'yung sundalo because alam ko kung ano ang mangyari. We are able --- nasilip ko na ang future and it will cost lives (I prioritized the soldiers because I know what will happen. I saw their future and it will cost lives)," Duterte said.
"Ito sasabihin ko, I am willing to strike a deal in the presence of Secretary Briones, sa mga maestra. You can choose the date, January, bilisan lang ninyo, then we can make even an agreement or manifesto, choose whatever kind of document, kayo ang isusunod ko this year. Kayo ang pinakamarami," he added, receiving applause and cheers from the crowd.
(I'm telling you, I am willing to strike a deal in the presence of Secretary Briones and the teachers. You can choose the date, be it January. Just make a prompt decision then we can make even an agreement or manifesto, choose whatever kind of document. You'll be the next in line this year since you have the most number of workers in the country.)
Duterte made the remark even after Diokno earlier said that the fourth tranche of pay hike for government workers, including the teachers, may be deferred after Congress failed to approve the proposed 2019 national budget.
The government is currently running on a recycled budget from the previous year, following the lawmakers' failure to pass the P3.757-trillion national budget for this year.
But for Senators Panfilo Lacson and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund can be used for the salary hike for employees working in the public sector.
Sought for clarification on Duterte's latest pronouncement, Diokno said: "This year means 2019. The salary increase for all government workers is embedded in the 2019 President's Budget, which is pending in Congress."
"All government employees will get an increase in pay -- the fourth tranche of SSL 4 -- this year, but it has to wait for the approval of the [proposed] 2019 General Appropriations Act," Diokno added.
The Budget chief, nevertheless, noted that his office had already initiated a study for the "increase in compensation for government workers from 2020 to 2022." (SunStar Philippines)