By Arjay L. Balinbin, June 3 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte plans to honor his campaign promise of higher salaries for public school teachers and will engage them in dialogue to address their pay demands, the President’s spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said.

“A dialogue, we will arrange for that. I’ll talk with the President about that,” Mr. Panelo said in a briefing at the Palace.

When asked for an update regarding the planned salary increase for teachers, he said: “The President is working on that. And hopefully that can be responded to. Our economic managers are doing everything to see how things can be done.”

He added that Mr. Duterte is not “reneging” on his commitment.

“But as you all know, there had been many things that occurred during the three years (in office) and the President had to increase the salaries of the soldiers as well as the PNP (Philippine National Police) as he ably explained these are the front-liners in securing our country; when they leave their homes, (they are one foot) in the grave. But you must remember that the mother of the President was a teacher and so his heart is with the teachers,” he said when asked why the increase has been delayed.

Asked for a timetable, he said: “Hopefully-let’s see. Because I’ve talked with the Secretary of Finance and the Budget (Secretary) and they said that they are working on it. Let’s see how it goes.”

On whether an executive order can be issued, he said: “Well, easier said than done. Because even if you issue an executive order, if there is no funding source, baka lalong may problema tayo (it might add to the problem). We’ll have to get some funding first.”

“I don’t know where they (economic managers) will get the funds, but they are looking for these sources,” he added.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones said in a Palace press briefing on May 22 that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is reviewing the government’s entire salary structure.

Mahalaga ang study ng DBM, dahil pumayag naman si Presidente na pag-aralan iyong buong salary system ng buong pamahalaan. Hindi lamang ang teachers, kung hindi iyong sa buong pamahalaan, dahil ang implikasyon nito napakalaki. (The DBM’s study is important, and the President has agreed to review the entire government’s salary structure, and the implications of the review are major.)… So siguro kung pinag-iisipan ng Presidenteng pataasan ang suweldo ngteachers, hindi naman niya nakakalimutan ang nurse, ang engineer, ang bookkeeper, ang clerk… kaya kailangang makita iyong buong picture (If the President is considering raising teachers’ salaries, he probably cannot neglect the pay of nurses, engineers, bookkeepers and clerks working for the government… we need to see the big picture),” she said. — Arjay L. Balinbin