Sulu Teachers Continue Protest, Demand Unpaid Salaries

December 4, 2007 at 4:15 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 04, 2007) – Disgruntled government teachers continued their protest Tuesday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, demanding salaries that remain unpaid for months now.

The strike began Monday after a few hundred teachers walked out of their school rooms to demand their wages and an investigation into alleged anomalies involving hundreds of millions of pesos in state pension contributions.

The teachers complained that they have not been paid their wages the past months by the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and that their contributions to the state pension agency which are worth over 600 million pesos since 2003 were also missing.

They earlier threatened to stage a mass protest should ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan fail to act on their problems. More than 5,000 teachers are currently teaching in Sulu province.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan on Tuesday appealed to the teachers to end their strike and return to work. Tan has ordered the creation of team, composed of teachers and education officials that will look into the problems of the teachers.

“We will look into these problems and try to resolve it peacefully in coordination with the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he told reporters.

Tan said the teachers converged at the office of the Department of Education in Sulu province. But it was not immediately known how long the protest would be.

Lawyer Oscar Sampulna, ARMM Executive Secretary, denied the allegations and insisted the teachers received their salaries on time.

“They are receiving their salaries. Those who are complaining were temporary teachers whose special permits to teach had not been renewed or revoked basically for their lack of the proper documents required by the Department of Education,” he said.

The teachers said none from the Department of Education in ARMM or any of its representatives went to Sulu to talk to them about their complaints.

In October, more than 1,000 public school teachers sought the help of Tan and asked him to bring the matter to President Gloria Arroyo.

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.

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. (Mindanao Examiner)


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