Duterte renews promise to increase teachers' salaries

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday renewed his promise to increase teachers' salaries, saying this can finally happen this year.

"I am willing to strike a deal in the presence of Secretary [Leonor] Briones sa mga maestra (teachers). You can choose a date... Kayo ang isusunod ko this year (You are next)," Duterte said in a speech at the unveiling of a high school in Bulacan.

He did not mention how much additional pay he wants to give the country's educators.

The President also explained why the government failed to give teachers higher salaries in previous years, saying he had to prioritize doubling the pay of soldiers for national security.

"Nanay ko teacher ako ba naman manloko sa inyo (My mother is a teacher, I won't lie to you)," Duterte said. "I was talking to [Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno] at the yearend to find out how things are - can we afford. Sabi ko sa kanya inuna ko ang sundalo because alam ko ano mangyari (I told him I prioritized soldiers because I knew something would happen)."

Policemen and soldiers received doubled salaries in 2018, but Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said there was not enough money to do this for public school teachers.

When asked about Duterte's statement, Diokno said all government employees will receive an increase in pay as part of the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law.

"But it has to wait for the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act," Diokno said. "DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has initiated a study for the increase in compensation for government workers from 2020 to 2022."

Duterte earlier promised to double teachers' pay, but Diokno then said doing this in 2019 would need an additional budget of P343.7 billion. Congress has yet to approved the proposed 2019 budget, so the government is working with a reenacted budget.