/ 13 January 2021

THE ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers urged the Department of Education to “exhaust all ways and means” for the speedy release of the communication expense refund and benefits of education workers.

In its letter to DepEd, the group said it received numerous complaints from public school teachers nationwide who did not receive or only got partial refund of the P300 communication expenses from March to December, 2020.

“It is unfair enough of the government to make the teachers shoulder the distance learning expenses for so many months while they themselves struggled to survive the pandemic. Making them suffer with the tedious and unreasonable refund process for a measly amount is already too insulting for our teachers,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s secretary general, said.

Basilio revealed that the majority of teachers have not fully benefited from the refund order due to insufficient school funds, imposition of stringent and unreasonable requirements, insufficient dissemination of the order, and non-uniformity of implementation on the ground.

He shared that some teachers were ordered to submit screen grabs of online classes, meetings and webinars that they conducted and attended as proof of internet use. They were also asked to submit internet bills registered under their names and official receipts for load cards or electronic load. Teachers must have their submissions notarized before their refund claims can be processed.

“Why do we have to subject teachers to such suffering when we all know that it is impossible for work-from-home set-up and distance learning to happen if the teachers were not able to find ways and expend their own money to have internet access? It is the government’s responsibility to provide for this critical input in the first place, the least they could do now is to reimburse the amounts immediately and hassle-free,” Basilio said.

He also urged DepEd to release the long-delayed Performance-Based Bonus 2019 and the Service Recognition Incentive 2020 of teachers.

“Lumampas na ang Pasko at Bagong Taon, natanggap na ito ng mga empleyado ng ibang ahensiya, pero ang para sa mga empleyado ng DepEd wala pa rin. Hanggang kailan ba paghihintayin ng gobyerno ang ating mga guro para sa mga ito?” Basilio asked.

ACT also reiterated its demand for P1,500 monthly internet allowance for all teachers and employees under the work-from-home set-up.

“Our education workers have shouldered enough burdens last year for education continuity. 2021 na, sana naman ay gawin na ng gobyerno ang kanilang mga tungkulin sa ating mga guro,” Basilio said.