/ 2 June 2022

THE TEACHERS’ Dignity Coalition acknowledged the findings of the Senate Committee on Basic Education and its recommendation to fully implement the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, a vintage law enacted in 1966.

The group particularly commended Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the committee chairman, for raising the matter in plenary yesterday and expressed hope that the next education secretary will at least consider the senator’s recommendations.

“We acknowledge the gesture of Sen. Gatchalian. By standing in the podium, he made our tiny and unheeded voices for more than 5 decades audible,” Benjo Basas, the group’s national chairperson, said.

Basas said that the TDC has been in constant coordination with the leadership of relevant committees in both houses of Congress who express support for their advocacies.

“With the enthusiastic Senate Education Committee on our side, we are certain that the 19th Congress will use its oversight function and legislative powers in our favor. But we still need the proactive stance of the DepEd, the agency primarily tasked to implement the letters and spirit of the law,” Basas added.

He said that the law is considered as Bible of Filipino teachers for its clear and explicit support to ensure their welfare but unfortunately, many of its provisions are not implemented.

“Our teachers do not enjoy the honoraria for teaching overload or the overtime pay as stipulated in the Magna Carta. There is indeed a special hardship allowance, but it is implemented incorrectly as it is based only on a mere DBM circular which says that the maximum amount shall not exceed 25 percent of a teacher’s monthly salary contrary to the mandate of Magna Carta that 25 percent shall be the minimum. And that one salary grade higher upon retirement is another myth, for the GSIS uses its own policy for computing the retirement benefits of teachers. These items are all required by the law, thus the DBM, GSIS and DepEd are duty-bound to implement them fully,” Basas said.

The Magna Carta ensures other benefits such as consent for transfer and transportation allowance, salary increment from lowest to highest within a maximum period of ten years, paid study leave for those who served for seven years and criteria set for determination of salaries.

Basas and his group underscored the DepEd’s obligation to provide medical care for teachers, another mandate of Magna Carta stipulated in its Sections 22 and 23.

“Crucial at this time of pandemic are the provisions for free and compulsory medical examination, treatment and hospitalization, and compensation for injuries. These important provisions are not implemented even in the time of pandemic when the teachers need it most,” he said.

“The full implementation of the Magna Carta for Teachers may not totally eliminate the ills of the education sector but it will greatly contribute to solving the problems. We are hopeful that the incoming secretary, Inday Sara Duterte will give her full attention to this specific concern,” Basas added.