MANILA, Philippines — Senators of the Liberal Party joined criticism of Budget Secretary Bejamin Diokno, saying it was “insensitive, if not heartless” for him to dismiss a possible increase in the salary of public school teachers because it was “not a priority at this time.”
“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 Senator Francis Pangilinan, the LP president.
Pangilinan said in a statement that the recently approved doubling of the salaries of military and uniformed personnel should have been “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,” he said.
Pangilinan’s mother is a retired teacher.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said teachers “have legitimate demands and are not shielded from the impact of higher prices of goods and services, especially with the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law in place.”
Senator Frank Drilon said he saw no reason for Diokno “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,” Drilon said.
Diokno had earlier pointed out that doubling the pay of the country’s 600,000 public country teachers, as President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted to do, would require some half a trillion pesos.