Monday, several teachers donned Halloween costumes to protest their salary increase days before Undas.
A few of these costumed teachers were members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, one of the biggest unions for teachers in the country. Some of the costumes that were seen who were protesting in front of the Department of Budget and Management office were White Ladies, The Grim Reaper, a Manananggal, and several skeletons.
Others also donned the face of President Rodrigo Duterte, Budget Secretary Wende Avisado, and Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
These teachers were asking to raise the minimum wage of teachers and other members of the different sectors of education in the Philippines.
ACT national chair Joselyn Martinez that it was like the Grim Reaper himself was pulling teachers because they feel the repercussions of being overworked and undercompensated.
Earlier in the month, more than 3000 public school teachers and other government workers held a rally on the eve of World Teachers’ Day. Led by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, this was done in protest of President Duterte’s “deafening silence” over the substantial salary increase he had promised them.
The proposed 2020 national budget allots P32 billion to cover the pay raise of all government workers, but the teachers said this would hardly cover the P30, 000 entry-level salary they have long demanded.
“Hundreds of teachers have been participating in building a human ‘30K’ formation in their schools,” said Martinez. “This indicates a growing unity and steadfastness among teachers to demand decent pay.”
“We who are tasked to fulfill the state’s primary duty to deliver social services with scant resources are denied a decent pay,” Martinez said. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that teachers are restless and agitated.”
The ACT Rep. France Castro posted a video message on the Act Teachers Party-List Facebook page ahead of the worldwide celebration calling for the public to support teachers and their invaluable contribution to society.
In her privilege speech during the 18th congress, Castro said that the coming Saturday should be looked to as a day of protecting and guaranteeing the rights of teachers.
The ACT brought up that the government had willingly allotted P134 billion for a 100-percent increase in the salaries of uniformed personnel such as police and military forces. But on the other hand, it had protested that P150 billion for a P10, 000 increases in the pay of public school teachers would be considered as too costly.
Rep. Castro also cried foul over the continuous red-tagging by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the National Task Force to End Local Communist armed Conflict against teachers.
“Speak with any teacher, and she or he will say, “Having a day with our name on it is good. But turning the ideals of that day into reality will be even better,” she said in her speech.
“The struggle for substantial salary increase therefore still remains,” Castro asserted. “We are again answered with the usual excuses of ‘no budget’ and ‘salaries are already comparable to those in the private sector.'”
“Kung may budget sa pork, higanteng construction contracts, at militaristang pamahalaan, mas dapat may budget para sa mga guro at kawani, sa edukasyon, at batayang karapatan,” she argued.
(If there is budget for pork, giant construction contracts and militaristic governance, all the more there should be budget for teachers and staff, for education, and fundamental rights.)
In closing her speech, Castro said, “The genuine celebration of teachers is honoring their rights and addressing their economic, social, and political struggles.” -ABS CBN/Philstar