Press Release
October 5, 2011

Privilege Speech of Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano
World Teacher's Day

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Mr. Senate President, distinguished colleagues, at sa lahat ng ating mga guro sa buong bansa, isang pagbati sa inyo ng magandang hapon, at Happy Teacher's Day.

In Jeremiah 29:11, it talks about plans to prosper us. And when we talk about plans of prosperity, we talk about the future.

What future do we have to choose from? Do we choose this picture of a future where the family is together, where people are graduating, where people have jobs? Or, do we choose an alternative future� a future of poverty, of flooding, of people without jobs, and of children having to beg for food?

I don't believe in crystal balls, in asking people to read your palms to know the future, Mr. President. But I do know that there is a means for us to find out what kind of future we will have. If we look at the teachers today, we will have our answer.

The kind of society we'll have tomorrow will depend on the kind of teachers we have today.

Before I go further, I want to quote an article from Ms. Tarra Quismundo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled "Latest pay hike, no relief for public school teachers" published last June. In this article, Ms. Quismundo narrated the sorry plight of a public school teacher, who, after dedicating almost three decades of his life to teaching, lived a life of financial struggles and difficulties. This, albeit the implementation of the latest round of salary increases that was approved during the Arroyo administration.

Mr. Rolando Malicdem has been a public school teacher at the General T. De Leon Elementary School in Valenzuela for 28 years. Now a widower, after his wife, a fellow teacher, died of breast cancer in April last year, he is now single-handedly raising his five children with a meager salary of a public school teacher. Indeed, after the P6,500 total pay increase, his gross salaries as reflected by his pay slips is P14,266. But after deductions, he is taking home a mere P5,252.

Mr. Malicdem tries to augment his salary by taking a sideline supplying snacks to the school canteen, which may make him earn P500 on a good week.

P5,252, plus P500 extra income per week, the total amount has to be divided among the needs of a family of six. Struggling to make both ends meet, the family of six lived in a cramped two-bedroom house.

Two of Mr. Malicdem's children have already dropped out of college.

Clearly, non-wage incentives like MediCare, decent housing, education for their children and tax incentives are just a few things that we try to do but fail to amply provide for a public school teacher.

While this is just one story published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, we have thousands and thousands of stories from our public school teachers all around the country. They all tell us the same thing.

I like this quote that goes "A good teacher is like a candle. It consumes itself to light the way for others."

Unfortunately, in our country, this is both figuratively and rhetorically true. Ibig sabihin, Your Honor, ibinibigay ng isang guro ang sarili niya sa pagtuturo. This is the dismal situation of our teachers, while the great minds of our country owe their greatness to the teachers who gifted them with the knowledge to reach beyond what is average, our teachers struggle to live a decent life.

Your Honor, ang kinikita ng isang guro ngayon ay sapat lamang para buhayin ang sarili niya. Pero hindi po kaya ng isang sweldo ng teacher na buhayin at pag-aralin ang kanilang mga anak.

Just like Mr. Malicdem. Two of his children had to drop out of college.

What an irony. A person who is giving his life to teaching cannot even send his own children to school.

Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions. Shouldn't the great, if not the greatest importance be placed on it?

I'm biased, Mr. President, not only because my grandmother, Juliana Luna Cayetano, was a public school teacher all her life in Pateros Elementary School, or because my mother was a school directress and a teacher at the Ann Arbor Montessori School and other preschools in our country, but also because the Lord has used our teachers to make us what we are today.

Whether they taught us to be street smart, or they taught us science or mathematics, utang natin sa ating mga naging guro, sa labas man o sa loob ng classroom, kung sino po tayo ngayon.

We have at least 600,000 teachers.

According to the World Bank, in a study in 1998, the single most influential factor behind a student's performance is the teacher. Teachers are shaping the minds of our elementary and high school students.

Ironically, Mr. President, again, the teachers are the victim of their own strength. Napakarami nating guro, kaya kung itataas ang sahod nila, parating ang sinasabi ay kulang ang pondo.

If you look at their salary now, based on the Salary Standardization Law 3, the average starting pay of a public school teacher is P17,099. Estimated take home pay after mandatory deductions such as PAGIBIG and GSIS, is P13,000.

Mr. President, kwentahin po natin.

Kung sa Metro Manila nakatira ang teacher na 'yan, siguro pinakamura na ang P5,000 para sa isang bahay na isa lang ang kwarto. Buenas na siya kung dalawa ang kwarto. Ang matitira sa sweldo niya ay P8,000.

If they are six in the family, at a meager P50 a day for six people who will have to eat three times a day, that's an additional expense of P4,500 in a month. Magkano na lang ang natira sa sweldo niya? P3,500 na lang. Walang pamasahe, walang pang-matrikula, bawal magkasakit at nagiging bawal bumili ng mga gamit ang mga bata.

Doon lang sa tubig, kuryente, pabahay at pagkain, ubos na ang P13,000 na binabayad natin sa isang guro.

Ngayon, pati ba naman chalk, ay kailangan sagutin pa din ng teacher? Binibigyan siya ng P700 yearly allowance para sa chalk, that's only P3.50 a day.

Kung titingnan po natin ang sweldo ng mga guro natin, kung ikukumpara sa ating mga kapitbahay na bansa, mas mataas lang po tayo sa Cambodia at Indonesia. Lamang ang Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and, to a certain degree, mas mataas ang Thailand sa atin pero sa starting lang. Kapag 15 years na sa pagtuturo, naiiwanan na rin tayo.

Kaya, huwag tayong magtataka kung bakit sabi ng POEA noong 2010 na 882 na guro ang nag-desisyong tumigil sa pagtuturo at pumunta sa ibang bansa upang maging domestic helpers.

In addition to this perennial problem, the DepEd hired 22,000 additional teachers to teach preschool for the K+12 program. 3-4 hours lang ang pagtuturo nila kaya tinatawag din silang volunteers. But they're only given P3,000 monthly allowance. Malayong-malayo sa P13,000 na sweldo ng mga guro.

The present number of preschool teachers is 29,615. Of this, only 2,200 hold permanent positions. That's according to DepEd.

Sasabihin ko sana na dapat magpasa tayo ng batas para tulungan ang mga teachers. Pero ang RA 4670 o Magna Carta for Teachers, ay nandiyan na noong 1966 pa. At imbes na napaganda ang kalagayan ng ating mga guro, makalipas ang apatnapung taon, mukhang napapasama pa.

Ito ang sinasabi ko na nagiging biktima sila sa sarili nilang numero. Napakarami nating mga guro, halos 600,000. More than 500,000 are under DepEd alone. They're about 1/3 of the members of the GSIS.

Teachers are required no more than six hours of actual classroom teaching a day, except when more hours is needed of them. Even then, it must not exceed 8 hours. Kung lalagpas, kailangan may additional compensation. However, at present, the average public school teacher, sometimes teaches up to four classes a day without additional compensation.

Mayroon namang na naiipatutupad sa Magna Carta: indefinite sick leave, study leave for teachers, overtime pays, special hardship, and one grade salary increase upon retirement. But why is it that despite the fact that the law has been there for more than 40 years there are still a lot that are not being implemented, like the transportation expenses for transfer, additional compensation for co-curricular and out of school activities, overtime pay for service rendered in excess of 8 hours a day, which should be at least 25% of their regular renumeration, medical examination and treatment of P500 a year, compensation for employment injuries, and reimbursement for travelling expenses in cases where there's scarcity of medical facilities.

Mr. President, more than 500,000 public school teachers share the P41,935,000 that DepEd has for the medical and dental benefits promised in the Magna Carta. That's only P83 for every teacher in a year. Hindi pa sapat yan para sa x-ray na nire-require sa kanila taon-taon.

Mr. President, of course, the question is: what can be done?

I know that our committees are working overtime to make sure that the teachers get their benefits. Alam ko ang DBM, DepEd, naghahanap ng pondo. But, Mr. President, why can't we see to it that what's in the Magna Carta alone�the basic rights of public school teachers, are upheld?

Sa K+12 program, bakit natin pinayagan na kumuha ng ganoon kadaming preschool teachers kung ang ibibigay lang ay P3,000 na allowance?

From the government's point of view, naiintindihan ko na walang pera ang DepEd para paswelduhan ng tama ang ating mga guro. Pero hindi ko din maintindihan kung bakit ang gobyerno na dapat pumoporotekta ng karapatan ng teachers ang siya na ring nagva-violate nito sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng P3,000 lang na allowance. Why can't we find the money to pay them correctly?

In Senate Bill 2353 and in the committee report last congress based on all the bills filed by almost all senators, we are calling for the increase in the pay of the teachers.

Kahit saan natin tingnan, kahit tingnan natin sa EDCOM, which came out with a recommendation more than ten years ago, dapat salary grade 17 ang mga guro. Sa lahat ng mga forum at international experts natin, ang sinasabi, sa ilalim ng Magna Carta, dapat katumbas ng isang tiniyente sa militar ang sahod ng isang guro. Yet, they're still stuck in their present salary grade.

I know this will take some huge amounts, and I know that all of us here are concerned about teachers. But allow me, Mr. President, to be one with our colleagues to express our love for our teachers today.

Teachers are the backbone of our country's future. Today on teacher's day, I urge the Senate to work overtime and to look at the plight of our teachers. Hanapin natin--maging monetary or non-monetary--ang mga benepisyo pa na puwedeng maibigay sa ating mga teachers.

Again. Mr. President, we're not doing this only for the teachers. We're doing this for ourselves and for the future of our country.

The kind of future that we want to have tomorrow will be determined by the kind of teachers we have today.

Sa huli, gusto kong sabihin na wala sa atin na magsasabi sa ating mga anak: "Anak, huwag ka muna mag-aral. Kapag mayaman na tayo, saka ka na mag-aral." Walang magulang ang magsasabi niyan. Baligtad nga ang sinasabi: "Anak, mag-aral ka nang mabuti para kapag nakapag-aral ka, aasenso tayo."

How come our budget is not translating into that kind of principle? Why is it that our national budget is translating this message instead: "Huwag mo munang bigyan ng pera ang edukasyon, pabayaan mo muna naghihirap ang mga teachers. Kapag yumaman tayo, saka natin sila dagdagan ng sweldo." Baligtad yata.

If we want our country to prosper, if we want a better future, then we have to start taking care of our teachers.

Magandang hapon at maraming salamat. God bless our teachers. God bless us all.

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