Press Release
May 24, 2008


Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, yesterday told officials of the Department of Education and the Department of Budget and Management to release immediately the hardship allowances and hazard pay for public schoolteachers.

Loren made the statement during a public hearing conducted by the Senate economic affairs committee on the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

During the hearing, Loren learned that the education and budget departments had not released the hardship allowances and hazard pay for schoolteachers despite their having been allocated in the national budget.

Loren pointed out that Section 19 of Republic Act No. 4670, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, specifically provides that teachers in hazardous locations shall be compensated with hazard pay equivalent to at least 25 percent of their monthly salary.

The "special hardship allowances" shall be granted to teachers assigned in "areas in which teachers are exposed to hardship such as difficulty in commuting to the place of employment as determined by the Secretary of Education," Loren pointed out, quoting Section 19 of the Magna Carta.

During the hearing, Senator Legarda was flabbergasted when she learned from the resource persons representing the teachers that they have not received their hardship pay as provided by law. "We should not treat our teachers capriciously," said Loren, "after all, despite their meagre pay, they are taking care of the future of our country by educating our children even in perilous times and dangerous areas."

Budget officials admitted during the hearing that the 2008 General Appropriations Act contained an allotment of P185.928 million for the hardship pay of the teachers. This was higher than the P85 million provided for hardship pay in the 2007 national budget.

The DBM also confirmed that about P80 million for hazard pay has been disbursed already to the education department, but the funds were "stranded" in the regional offices. The main reason, according to DBM, was lack of guidelines for the release of these funds.

Senator Legarda noted that this is a manifestation of inefficiency in the bureaucracy because it would take a long time to formulate the guidelines when t he law is already clear.

She stressed that there must be some way to release these funds quickly to the teachers. She thus challenged DBM and DepEd to fix the problem within 15 days and release the funds quickly for the payment of hazard pay.

Loren also expressed concern for the teachers who render service in far-flung areas and war zones. "They are the ones who need most the hazard pay to compensate not only for their hardships but also for the danger to their lives in the performance of their duties."

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