With the Senate set to deliberate on the P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021, Senator Win Gatchalian said he will push for the restoration of funds for public school teachers’ medical benefits.
Despite the limitation on resources, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture emphasized it is crucial to maintain, not remove, the funding for the medical benefits of teachers who risk their safety to roll out distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the 2020 budget, P400 million was allotted for teachers’ annual medical examination. This is equivalent to P500 per teacher, which was released last October. Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla previously explained that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not consider the proposed budget for teachers’ medical allowances in the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
The NEP allocated P605.74 billion to DepEd for 2021, up by 9.54 percent from its P552.9 billion budget this year.
“Sa kabila ng patuloy na banta ng COVID-19 sa ating bansa, kailangang tuloy-tuloy ang suporta na ibinibigay natin para patuloy na maitaguyod ang kapakanan ng ating mga guro. Isa sa mga mahahalagang benepisyong dapat patuloy nating maibigay ay para sa tulong medikal ng mga guro, lalo na’t nasa gitna tayo ng isang matinding krisis pangkalusugan,” said Gatchalian.
“Bilang mga frontliners sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon, isinasakripisyo ng mga guro ang kanilang kaligtasan at kalusugan, kaya hindi natin dapat ipagkait ang ano mang uri ng suportang maaari nating ibigay sa kanila,” he added.
Gatchalian also reiterated the importance of carrying out all the provisions of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (Republic Act No. 4670), which seeks to improve the living and working conditions of all public school teachers, noting that only 40 percent of the provisions are fully fulfilled since the law was enacted.
Gatchalian said section 22 of the Magna Carta mandates that public school teachers are entitled to free and compulsory medical examination before they take up teaching. This shall be repeated every year and should teachers require treatment and hospitalization, the government should provide them for free.
The Magna Carta also mandates a six-hour teaching schedule in a day and additional compensation if they perform tasks outside their normal duties. It also provides for other benefits such as special hardship allowances for teachers exposed to hardships such as difficulty in commuting to work or other hazards peculiar to their place of employment.
Gatchalian filed Senate Resolution No. 522 to conduct a Senate review on the implementation of the Magna Carta.