Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — Budget Secretary Ben Diokno on Wednesday assured teachers they will get an increase in pay, but he also explained why it cannot be doubled.
He issued a clarification after the flak he has received last week over his statement saying doubling teachers’ salaries isn’t an administration priority.
“I’m not opposed to increasing the salaries of our teachers. However, I cautioned against the doubling of the salaries,” he said in a media briefing.
He said teachers are already getting a notable adjustment in their salaries under the salary standardization law (SSL), which is carried out in tranches, and lower income tax rates under the tax reform law.
For an entry-level teacher who is getting a salary of over ₱20,000 monthly, they will get an additional ₱7,000 per annum because of this year’s SSL. The income tax exemption from the tax reform law will give them an additional ₱35,000 per annum. It will total to ₱43,000 in extra earning in 2018, Diokno said.
Diokno said he is gunning for another pay hike for teachers in 2020.
No doubling the salary
In the wake of calls to double teachers’ pay, Diokno asked, “Are you willing to pay additional taxes to increase the pay of teachers?”
He said doubling teachers’ pay in 2019 would need an additional budget of ₱343.7 billion.
He warned that if teachers’ salary is doubled it may lead to the downgrading of the country’s credit rating, which would mean higher interest rates for future loan. He said it may also raise taxes.
He added this may sacrifice the funding of other government priorities, such as the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program, free tuition in state universities and colleges, the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi, and the conditional cash transfer program, which helps 10 million of the country’s poorest households.
We cannot afford to sacrifice these priorities… We cannot afford to sacrifice these priorities,” he said.