/ 5 October 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday reiterated his call to uphold the welfare and safety of education frontliners who sacrificed their health and safety to ensure learning continuity.

Gatchalian said the crucial next steps include the vaccination of all teachers, non-teaching staff, and other school officials, especially since the Department of Education is set to begin the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes in areas with minimal risk of Covid19.

DepEd earlier announced that full vaccination will be required for teachers and non-teaching personnel participating in the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes.

“Kasabay ng unti-unting pagbubukas ng ating mga paaralan ang pagtiyak na lahat ng ating mga guro ay mababakunahan kontra Covid19. Kung mababakunahan na ang lahat ng ating mga guro at mga kawani, matitiyak nating makakalahok sila sakaling mapalawig na ang pagsasagawa ng face-to-face classes sa buong bansa,” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture said.

While the vaccination of teachers will help mitigate the risk of Covid19 transmission in schools, Gatchalian emphasized that it is equally important to ensure that teachers can turn to the government if they are infected with the coronavirus disease.

Public school teachers have Philippine Health Insurance Corporation coverage, which they can use if they get infected with Covid19.

Teachers, however, still need to spend their own money before receiving reimbursements from the state insurer.

The senator suggested the creation of a PhilHealth special lane for teachers for a speedy provision of aid.

Gatchalian also recognized the work of teachers as election frontliners.

Under Senate Bill 1193 that he filed in 2019, Gatchalian sought to exclude from gross income and exempt from taxation the honoraria, travel allowance, and other benefits granted by the Commission on Elections to teachers and poll workers.

In the past elections, a 5 percent tax was imposed on teachers’ election honoraria and allowances.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa ating mga guro para sa kanilang serbisyo sa ating bayan. Hindi lang sila frontliners sa edukasyon, mahalaga rin ang papel nila sa pangangalaga ng ating demokrasya. Kaya naman dapat nating itaguyod ang kanilang kaligtasan at kapakanan lalo na sa gitna ng hinaharap nating krisis,” Gatchalian said.