Public school teachers seek dialogue with DepEd on SEF allowances, aid
MANILA — Public school teachers are trooping to the Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday (Feb. 6) to protest a joint circular that is believed to prohibit local government units (LGUs) from paying teachers’ allowance.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition is calling for a dialogue to come up with a more acceptable agreement on the use of the special education fund (SEF).
The TDC said teachers were not consulted before the circular was signed by DepEd, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in violation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.
“May we appeal that the implementation of this joint circular be suspended pending the dialogue that may result in more acceptable agreements between the parties,” said TDC chair Benjo Basas in a statement.
The Jan. 19 joint circular updated the guidelines and policies on the use of the SEF as provided under the Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
The DepEd explained that the guidelines were revised to better support the supplementary budgetary needs of schools and learning centers following the practices observed in the utilization of the SEF and the current developments in the implementation of the K-12 program.
But Basas said the joint circular would result in the removal of local allowances currently enjoyed by teachers and funding assistance for training and seminars of teachers and students in public schools.
The circular also prevents the provision of some welfare assistance for teachers that are sourced from the SEF, such as medical compensation under the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, according to Basas.
“While we recognize the intention of the circular to put the funds to other important items, it is heartbreaking that the three agencies have united and actually decided to sacrifice the welfare of our teachers,” he said.
Basas said members of the group have decided to gather at the DepEd on Monday so they could personally convey their concerns to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, whom the group claimed has disregarded repeated requests for a dialogue since she took office in July.
According to a DepEd statement released on Thursday, the joint circular does not prohibit LGUs from granting additional allowances to teachers. Such allowances could be sourced from the LGUs’ regular budget or general fund subject to existing budgeting rules and regulations, the DepEd explained
Section 4 of the revised circular enumerated the expenditure items chargeable against the SEF, which includes the payment of compensation or allowances of locally hired teachers in elementary and high schools identified to have shortages based on the DepEd’s teacher deployment analysis, it said. SFM