Senator Win Gatchalian says he already found the P54 billion needed to fund his bill raising the salaries of teachers by two salary grades.
“Hindi po ba may vineto si Pangulong Duterte na P95 billion na pork barrel funds sa 2019 budget? Bakit hindi natin kunin ‘yong P54 billion doon para pondohan ang salary increase ng teachers natin?” Gatchalian suggested during the first hearing of the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation on the proposed salary increases for government employees and teachers.
The lawmaker was referring to a total of 2,071 projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) worth P95.37 billion that was line-item vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte from the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“In fact, kailangan nating magpasa ng supplemental budget ngayong taon para magamit ‘yong P95 billion na ‘yon. We can use that amount to increase the salaries of our teachers,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 178 increases the Salary Grade (SG) of public school teachers currently classified as Teacher I, Teacher II and Teacher III from SG 11, 12, and 13 to SG 13, 14, and 15, respectively. P54 billion is needed to fund the salary increase.
Based on the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law, the proposed legislation would increase the salary of Teacher I from P20,754 to P25,232 or a difference of P4,478. Teacher II salaries would increase by P4,817 to P27,755 from the previous P22,938. Meanwhile, Teacher III personnel would receive an increase of P5,299 – from P25,232 to P30,531.
“If we increase the salaries of Teachers I to III, then we would have provided an income augmentation to 889,700 personnel or 83% of our teachers,” Gatchalian stressed.
Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, also said raising the salary of Teachers 1 to III would narrow the gap of the salaries between Teacher III and Master Teacher I.
“As of 2018, the gap in pay between a Master Teacher I and Teacher III was P13,861 more than quadruple than that of the P3,224 difference in 2007,” he said. “This has resulted in increasing inequity between those filling the ranks of Teachers I-III and higher positions.”
The passage of the 2019 GAA was delayed due to a months-long squabble between the Upper and Lower House over what the senators said were “illegal insertions” into the budget.
The budget bill was not passed before the end of 2018, due to the late transmission of the House-approved bill to the Senate. The controversy continued until April with senators accusing congressmen of itemizing infrastructure projects in the General Appropriations Bill even after the bill was approved by the bicameral conference committee.