The statement of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno that a salary increase for public school teachers was not a priority at this time was insensitive, if not heartless, Partido Liberal senators said Thursday.
"It's not certainly the way to treat our public school teachers, who have been seeking government's help for higher salaries and additional benefits so that they can live decently," said Partido Liberal president Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
Pangilinan noted that the recent doubling of the salaries of military and uniform personnel. He said this can be seen as a positive sign to start the ball rolling for a similar initiative in adjusting the pay of teachers and teaching personnel, who deserve no less.
"Beyond their traditional mission in the classrooms, teachers are mentors and influencers of the youth and of the community. Their critical role in nation-building could not be overlooked," said Pangilinan, whose mother is a retired teacher.
Sen. Bam Aquino said that while teachers may not bear arms or engage in dangerous missions, they give the same dedication and hard work to educate the students.
"They have legitimate demands and are not shielded from the impact of higher prices of goods and services, especially with the TRAIN law in place," Aquino said.
"Gaya ng sundalo at pulis, gumagamit din sila ng gasolina, bumibili ng pagkain at iba pang gastusin na nagtaas na dahil sa TRAIN law," said Aquino, principal sponsor of the Expanded Tertiary Education Act.
For his part, Sen. Frank Drilon pointed out that the Department of Budget and Management was able to find funds for the salary hike of military and uniformed personnel, then there is no reason for its Secretary to whine about the cost of increasing the pay of public school teachers.
"Instead of slamming the doors on the plea of the teachers, Secretary Diokno should use his wise judgment and skills to find the funds and put money where it is most needed. Investments on the country's human resources, especially our teachers, can never go wrong," said the Senate Minority Leader.
Source: Senate of the Philippines