Senator Win Gatchalian is seeking an inquiry in aid of legislation on the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (Republic Act No. 4670), a law that seeks to improve the living and working conditions of public school teachers.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 522, Gatchalian seeks a comprehensive and critical review that will identify the gaps, issues, and challenges in advancing public teachers’ rights and welfare through the ‘Magna Carta.’ Gatchalian lamented that though 50 years have passed since the law was enacted, some of its provisions have not been implemented at all, while others are either partially or selectively enforced.
For instance, 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 not less than once a year. When medical examinations show that treatment and hospitalization are necessary, they shall be provided for free by the government entity paying teachers’ salaries.
According to Gatchalian, the failure to ensure these health benefits are magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens the health and welfare of teachers in the roll-out of distance learning.
The law also mandates that public school teachers shall not render more than six hours of actual classroom teaching in a day. Under the law, teachers are entitled to additional compensation if their work exceeds six hours a day and if they accomplish tasks outside their normal duties.
Despite this provision, a February 2019 policy paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) observed that actual teaching is increasingly sidelined by the multitude of non-teaching tasks. These include additional designations in line with student guidance, budget, disaster response, and health. Teachers are also expected to participate in the implementation of various government programs such as mass immunization, deworming, feeding, and election, among others.
The Magna Carta also mandates that public school teacher salaries should be comparable with those of other professions where similar educational qualifications and training are required. Gatchalian pointed out that despite their qualifications and the length of their service in government, teachers are left far behind by other professionals, including their armed counterparts.
“Napapanahong masuri natin kung paano ba pinapangalagaan ng ating gobyerno ang ating mga guro, lalo na’t mahalaga ang papel nila sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon sa gitna ng pandemya. Sa gagawin nating pagsusuri, nais nating matukoy kung paano pa natin mapapaigting ang pagpapatupad ng Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, upang masiguro nating lubos na napapangalagaan ang kapakanan ng mga guro,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.