Teachers To Boycott Village, Youth Polls In Southern Philippines

October 14, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Government teachers in Sulu province listen to a forum Sunday Oct. 14, 2007 in Jolo town. More than 1,000 teachers sought help from Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan saying that hundreds of them in the province have not been paid their salaries the past months by the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and that their contributions to the state pension agency which are worth over 600 million pesos since 2003 are missing. The teachers have threatened to stage a mass protest and boycott village and youth polls on Oct. 29 should ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan fails to act on their problems. More than 5,000 teachers are currently teaching in Sulu province, about 950 kilometers south of Manila. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 14, 2007) – Thousands of disgruntled government teachers in Sulu province in southern Philippines have threatened to state a mass protest and boycott upcoming village and youth polls if the Muslim autonomous region fails to release their salaries.

The teachers claimed that many of them have not been paid their salaries the past year and that their contributions worth more than P600 million to the state pension were allegedly missing.

More than 1,000 public school teachers on Sunday sought the help of Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan and asked him to tell President Gloria Arroyo of their plight.

Teachers from different towns trooped to the Sulu State College in Jolo town and sent an emissary to Tan for a dialogue. The forum lasted more than 6 hours with Tan assuring the teachers that he would discuss their problems with ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan.

Jackaria Rasik, president of the Sug Educators Forum, said the teachers will boycott the village and youth elections on Oct. 29 if their salaries are not paid.

“We will boycott the polls. The teachers are fed up of these recurring problems. The ARMM should pay the salaries of the teachers or else there won’t be any elections in the whole of Sulu,” he said during the forum.

He said the government should also investigate corruption allegations in the ARMM.

Abdulbasit Pawakil, president of the larger Federation of Sulu Teachers, also asked for a government audit and to investigate the problems of delayed and missing salaries and contributions to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

He said that as of 2003, more than P389 million of teachers’ contributions to GSIS were missing and that this has ballooned to over P600 million and yet ARMM continues to deduct insurance premiums from their salaries.

“What is going on? We know the problems, yet nobody is acting on it,” he said.

Tan said the teachers were asking for a formal Congressional or Senate investigations into the missing GSIS contributions and salaries and jail those who would be found guilty of embezzling funds.

“Today, I join you in all your sacrifices and difficulties and I will assure all the teachers that these problems will be investigated,” he said.

Last month, more than 500 teachers also sought Tan’s help about their missing salaries. (Mindanao Examiner)

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