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Speech: 43rd Representative Assembly of the Antique Public School Teachers’ Association Inc.

March 1, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda

43rd Representative Assembly of the Antique Public School Teachers’ Association Inc.

1 March 2018 | Merrace Resort, San Jose, Antique

First of all, I wish to salute our teachers, and also our non-teaching personnel, for their untiring service to inspire the youth and improve lives through learning.

The teaching profession is probably one of the hardest yet thankless jobs. Our teachers deserve to be recognized as heroes because you give more despite receiving less. Despite the limitations in the country’s education system, you always strive to make a difference in the lives of your students.

I am honored and happy to be speaking before you today because I want to share with you our initiatives that would greatly benefit our teachers and our education system as a whole.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, I did not only ensure that education gets the biggest chunk of the budget, but also made sure that the welfare of our teachers will be considered.

Under the 2018 national budget, we funded the Free Tertiary Education Act for high school graduates to avail of free college education in state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, or state-run technical vocational institutions. All Filipinos will now have a chance to graduate in college and gain wider opportunities for professional growth.

We also provided additional capital outlay to all SUCs and funding for free Wi-Fi, all aimed at improving the public tertiary education in the country.

Meanwhile, for our public school teachers, all of you will receive additional P1,000 chalk allowance starting this incoming school year.

In 2015, chalk allowance increased from Php1,000 to Php1,500 per teacher. It was raised to Php2,500 under the 2017 national budget. Now, it will be Php3,500. But we will not stop there because under the 2019 national budget, we aim to increase teachers’ annual chalk allowance to Php5,000 per teacher.

We know how much you try to make do with what you have or even pay out of pocket to buy classroom supplies just to ensure that you become more effective in teaching your students. That is why, we will not stop until you get what you deserve.

Also under the 2018 budget, all government workers under the Executive Department, including teachers, will now have health insurance plans. We have provided Php3.5 Billion for PhilHealth Plus to cover the cost of supplemental health benefits, which will cover services ranging from preventive and curative, inpatient and outpatient, and other medical expenses in excess of contributions-based case rates. This means, aside from PhilHealth coverage of hospitalization, you no longer have to shell out for check-up, laboratory procedures, and other preventive healthcare procedures.

To further support the needs of our teachers, I also filed a proposed measure in the Senate, the Integrated Magna Carta for Teachers and Non-teaching Personnel. It is among the top ten bills I filed in the 17th Congress.

The measure aims to promote and advance the social, economic, and professional status of teachers and non-teaching personnel commensurate to your invaluable role in national development.

It seeks to attract more teachers and non-teaching personnel of competent and efficient skills by providing, among others, an annual salary increase to mitigate the effects of inflation, security payment of their salaries on a monthly basis regardless of semestral or summer vacations, and gratuity benefit for those who choose to retire before reaching the compulsory age of 60 and have rendered at least two years of service.

It is still pending at the committee level in the Senate but we hope we could pass the measure before the 17th Congress ends next year.

We should really strive to enhance the image of teaching as an esteemed vocation so that more and more people recognize the value and impact of our teachers to our children and to the society.

To say that teachers are invaluable to our society is an understatement. Our teachers are all over the country—not only teaching, but also igniting curiosity, inspiring passion, and opening doors for our students. That is why it has always been part of my advocacy to support our teachers, the very people who have become instrumental in achieving the successes we have attained in our lives.

I thank you all for your commitment to your duty and I hope that the passion which brought you to this profession would never waver.

Maraming salamat at mabuhay kayo!