MANILA, Philippines — For saying salary increases for public school teachers are “not our priority this time,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno was dubbed “Teachers’ Enemy #1.”
ACT Teachers Representative France Castro went further, calling Diokno “pathologically anti-teacher” for consistently opposing hikes in the wages and benefits of educators.
Fellow ACT Representative Antonio Tinio said Diokno should consider quitting his post if he cannot comply with the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte, who said he wants to double teachers’ pay the same way he did with the wages of military and uniformed personnel.
Diokno said on Wednesday that wage hikes for teachers were untenable because the administration’s thrust was its “Build, Build, Build” and social protection programs.
Increasing the pay of the 600,000 public school teachers, he pointed out, would require half a trillion pesos.
But Castro argued that the expected increase in fuel prices, house rentals, fares and utilities, a wage increase for the teachers was just and reasonable.
She added that the Budget department could not simply reject a wage hike invoking lack of funds, noting that there are possible sources other than the national budget, such as uncollected taxes and what she called “hidden pork” and the budget for the war on drugs, that could be “re-channeled.”