Philippine Teachers Decry Poor Working Conditions, Delay In Benefits

October 6, 2007 at 10:04 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Filipino teachers during the World Teachers’ Day celebration in Manila. Many teachers accuse the government of ignoring their plight and urge President Gloria Arroyo to carry out true reforms that will benefit not only the teachers, but all state employees.

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 06, 2007) – About a thousand teachers held a peaceful rally in Manila, coinciding with the World Teachers’ Day, to assert their rights and call attention to poor working conditions of the country’s more than a half a million government teachers.

Most of those who joined the assembly were from four national teachers’ unions – the National Federation of Teachers for Democracy (NAFTED), Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC), the Teachers and Employees Association for Change, Education, Reforms and Solidarity (TEACHERS, Inc.), and the Teachers’ Organization in the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS).

Rey Jesuitas, TOPPS president, said the education crisis haunting the Philippines is partly due to the deplorable working conditions and lamentable pay of public school teachers.

He said the teachers were urging Manila to carry out reform in the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) policies that will address their plight.

They also urged the government to appoint a new GSIS president who can undertake important reforms that will benefit not only the teachers, but all government employees.

The GSIS oversees the social security benefits of government employees estimated at more than 1.5 million. At present, a lawyer from Cebu province, Winston Garcia, is the GSIS president.

“We therefore call the government to reform the GSIS. This will be possible only if Garcia is sacked and replaced by an official who is transparent and has genuine concern for public sector workers,” Jesuitas said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Militant labor groups allied with government labor unions have previously protested Garcia’s continued stay at the GSIS and blamed him for the delays in loans and other state benefits of civil workers.

The teachers who joined the rally have given a failing grade on Garcia’s performance as president of the GSIS.

“As teachers, we decided to come up with a report card to rate how Garcia has fared so far in managing the national pension fund of government workers and he failed,” Jesuitas said.

“Garcia was rated in terms of financial management, efficiency of operations, transparency and accountability, consultation and participation, consistency and service orientation. He received a failing grade in all, getting below the 75% standard passing average, and even got a 0 rating in transparency and accountability and in service orientation.”

“Garcia completely deserves to get a failing grade. In fact, I believe he should have gotten zero in all areas. GMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) is to blame too for the woes of the teachers and other government workers, after all Garcia is there primarily because of GMA,” he said.

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