Tell It to SunStar: On the anticipated signing of SSL 5 Bill

WE ANTICIPATE the signing of the bill that would grant an increase for the salaries of government employees along with the 2020 national budget. This might be a hopeless plea, but still, we appeal to the President for the last time, please consider a substantial salary hike for our teachers. Please open your heart for a dialogue with the country’s public mentors.

The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) mandates the protection of rights of its teachers as well as promotion of their economic welfare. Section 15 of the law even provides for a criteria for salaries as follows:

(a) they shall compare favorably with those paid in other occupations requiring equivalent or similar qualifications, training and abilities; (b) they shall be such as to insure teachers a reasonable standard of life for themselves and their families; and (c) they shall be properly graded so as to recognize the fact that certain positions require higher qualifications and greater responsibility than others: Provided, however, that the general salary scale shall be such that the relation between the lowest and highest salaries paid in the profession will be of reasonable order. Narrowing of the salary scale shall be achieved by raising the lower end of the salary scales relative to the upper end.

Teachers are asking for a minimal increase amounting to P10,000 for all the Department of Education (DepEd) employees that should be over and above the salary standardization law (SSL).

A week before Christmas last year, both houses of Congress separately approved a new version of the salary law (SSL 5), in accordance with the urgent certification from Malacañang and submitted it to the President for his signature. This proposed version is another generic law that would perpetuate the low salary scheme for our teachers in particular and the government workers in general. For example, teachers’ entry-level salary would have a total addition of P6,246 that would be divided for four years.

The President was the one who invited the teachers’ groups for a meeting in January 2019. We responded through mass media and through a formal letter. We enthusiastically stated that we are more than willing to discuss things with him. However, the anticipated meeting did not push through until Congress approved the new SSL bill. While the SSL 5 is still waiting for the President’s signature, there is still hope that he would consider a substantial increase in our salaries if he will decide to veto some of its provisions. If the P10,000 across-the-board increase for teachers will not be possible now, the government may at least give the P6,246 increase in a single or at least two tranches. Then we would pursue the lobby for salary upgrading or the P10,000 increase in the next regular sessions of Congress.

The SSL 5 bill does not recognize the provisions of Magna Carta for Public School Teachers of 1966 and even the education committee recommendations of 1991. Furthermore, it does not reflect the letters and intentions of Article XIV, Section 5 (5) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. (Teachers Dignity Coalition)