The salaries of education workers are being battered by unprecedented rising prices, research group IBON said. The paltry increases, which even came in trickles under Executive Order 201, have already been eroded since they were applied in 2016, said the group.
In a media forum, IBON executive editor and research head Rosario Bella Guzman said that the steep acceleration of the inflation rate beginning in 2018 to reach a nine-year-high this October was aggravated the Duterte government’s imposition of consumption taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). “This has hastened the erosion of the salaries of teachers and non-academic personnel,” she said. As a result, the real value of salaries of Teacher 3 (SG13-Php24,224) has increased only by a negligible 1.5% since the annual 4.2% tranches of increases were applied.
Guzman added that the real value of salaries of Teacher 2 (SG12-Php22,149) has already declined by Php47 since the annual 3.6% salary increases, and by Php423 for Teacher 1 (SG11-Php20,179) since the beginning of 2016. “That is despite three tranches averaging 2.8% for them,” Guzman said. “The non-academic employees under SG1 (Php9,660), meanwhile, have lost Php322 off their purchasing capacity.”
The weakening of the teachers’ purchasing power hastened under TRAIN when the average inflation rate from January to October this year was 5.12%, as compared with 1.3% in 2016 and 2.9% in 2017, noted Guzman. She said that lower real values referenced to 2016 have taken effect in 2018 – by October for Teacher 2, June for Teacher 1, and as early as March for the non-academic employees. “With the unabated inflation, it won’t be long for Teacher 3’s purchasing power to decline as well,” Guzman warned.
She further explained that In the first 10 months of the year so far, a teacher earning a monthly income of either Php20,179 (SG11) and Php21,387 (SG12) has lost between Php5,529 and Php6,746 due to TRAIN. SG1 personnel have spent around Php3,000 pesos more.
Teachers’ salaries fall short of the family living wage of around Php23,579 for a family of five, Guzman said, which should be the level of SG1 for government employees. She added: “Their purchasing power has not only been vastly eroded by an anti-poor, extremely regressive and unjust tax reform program by the Duterte government, but they are to begin with, grossly underpaid.”
Guzman said that the Duterte administration can correct this injustice, being the biggest employer. However, said Guzman, the government is not only being stubborn on repealing the TRAIN or even simply suspending current fuel taxes. It has large increases in the budget for 2019 which are in infrastructure and the military (26% more for DPWH, 89% for DOTr, 34% more for DND, and 30% more for PNP), while there will be 2.2% less for social welfare, 26% less for health, only 13% more for DepEd and 2.2% more for SUCs, Guzman noted. For 2019, the Duterte government is not granting a single centavo-salary increase to education workers after it increased 100% the salaries of police personnel. “Obviously, the education workers are not the Duterte administration’s priorities,” said Guzman.
A substantial salary increase should be an urgent measure in light of the people’s increasing difficulty, Guzman stressed. “The Duterte administration can very well accomplish this if only it would be more decisive for the education workers,” she concluded.