Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he was not opposed to any increase in public school teachers’ pay but stressed that this should be done after careful study and the last tranche of state workers’ pay increase by 2019.

This after teachers’ group hit the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary for discounting the doubling of public school teachers’ salaries, which Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque indicated as a possibility after President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision on policemen’s pay hike.

In a briefing, Diokno said doubling the pay of public school teachers requires the government to produce about PHP343.7 billion this year alone, which account for around two percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The contribution to GDP of the required amount will increase the projected budget deficit level this year to five percent of GDP, which is way above the three percent ceiling set by economic managers.

“This may put at risk the excellent international financing standing the Duterte administration has build over the past 18 months,” he said.

Diokno, thus, cautioned people against questioning his statement on the proposed pay hike for educators from the public sector.

“I understand the crucial role teachers have in nation-building and I do believe they should be rewarded accordingly,” he said, citing that he himself has been an educator for several years.

Diokno also pointed out that sans the new increase, teachers, along with other workers in the public sector, are scheduled to have the third and fourth tranche of pay hike this and next year under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) III.

Under this scheme, a Teacher 1 will receive a total compensation of PHP316,506 this year and PHP324,556 next year.

For this year, their monthly compensation amounts to PHP20,179 while it is PHP20,754 next year.

Aside from the monthly salary, educators who hold a Teacher 1 position will receive mid-year and year-end bonuses amounting to one-month salary, PHP24,000 Personal Economic Relief Allowance (PERA), PHP5,000 Performance Enhancement Incentive (PEI) bonus, and PHP5,000 cash gift.

Diokno said the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law was a plus for workers in general since it exempted workers’ first PHP250,000 annual income from income tax.

Citing the effect of SSL and TRAIN, he said those with Teacher 1 position, with no dependents, would get additional PHP43,363 this year alone.

He said DBM would conduct a study on any teachers’ pay hike in the first quarter of 2019 after noting that recent studies comparing the salaries of teachers from public and private schools show that those from public school receive way higher salaries in general. (PNA)