PUBLIC and private school teachers affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will only receive a measly cash aid of P250 each under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act 2 if lawmakers will not increase the amount in the bicameral level, a House leader said yesterday.
Deputy speaker Michael Romero of 1-Pacman party-list said the P300 million aid for 1.2 million teachers and non-teaching personnel under the proposed law should be increased to P5 billion, which will bring up the amount to some P4,000 each.
The 1.2 million beneficiaries are composed of 500,000 teachers and administrative employees of private schools and about 700,000 teachers of public schools, excluding non-teaching personnel.
“If we distribute P300 million equally among 1.2 million teachers and non-teachers, each will receive a measly P250 in aid. If the money is shared by the affected 500,000 personnel in private schools, each of them will get P600. Clearly, we have to allocate a much bigger amount for the intended beneficiaries,” Romero said.
Under the Bayanihan 2 bill, the P300 million would be used for “subsidies and allowances” for teaching and non-teaching personnel in both public and private elementary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, including part-time faculty.
The House and Senate contingents to the bicameral meetings on the proposed Bayanihan 2 have already agreed to peg the bill’s COVID response fund to a total of P162 billion which is based on the House proposal.
“P300 million will not go a long way in easing the suffering of the at least 1.2 million teaching and non-teaching staff of private and public schools that we want to help,” the lawmaker said.
He said teachers and administrative employees of schools badly need assistance from the government, “as they have been without jobs and income since March, when lockdown measures were imposed.”
Romero was the one who pushed for the inclusion of the financial aid for teachers and non-teaching personnel in the Bayanihan 2 bill, noting that school teachers would continue to be without income until classes for school year 2020-21 resumes. President Duterte last week moved the opening of classes, which was supposed to start already on August 24, to October 5.
The lawmaker made the call last July 13, when the House was still putting together the proposed second version of the social amelioration program (SAP) law under (HB) No. 6953.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list has said more than 400,000 private school teachers have not been receiving their salaries since March under the “no-work, no-pay” scheme because of the lockdown.
The group said 94 percent of these teachers did not qualify for the P5,000-P8,000 financial assistance to low-income households under Bayanihan 1.
ACT called for a P10,000 monthly wage subsidy from the government for private school teachers. Public school teachers, on the other hand, continue to receive pay during the pandemic because they are government employees.
Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Alfred Delos Santos has filed House Bill No. 5497 seeking to amend the Solo Parent Act to expand the benefits and privileges for single parents under the law in the face of the economic uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 8972 to grant solo parents a 20 percent fare discount privilege on domestic regular fares, subject to the implementing rules and regulations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and a five percent discount relative to the monthly utilization of water and electricity, provided that monthly consumption does not exceed 100Kwh for power and 30 cubic meters for water.
It also seeks a 20 percent discount on purchase of goods and services, which include medicines and medical supplies to be determined by the Department of Health, professional fees of licensed health professionals, medical and dental fees in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics, and homes care services; and laboratory fees.
The proposed measure, however, requires solo parents to submit proof of their status to the DSWD for proper documentation and identification to be determined by the department, in order to avail of the discounts and privileges.
The DSWD is also mandated to put in place a mechanism or system of documentation and identification for single parents.
“We are appealing to our colleagues to consider this proposal to ease the burden of our solo parents,” Delos Santos said.