Solon: $1B loan to IMF height of gov’t neglect of education

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio hit the Aquino government’s $1B pledge to the International Monetary Fund’s emergency pool.

Based on the latest Reference Exchange Rate issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the pledge amounts to P42.26 B.

Tinio says that the contribution to the kitty, allegedly for crisis prevention and resolution and to meet the potential financing needs of IMF members, works as a loan for countries mostly in Europe, currently under economic crisis.

“PNoy again displayed the utmost insensitivity to the education sector.  Our country pays its Kinder teachers P3,000 a month, and its  class sizes sometimes bulge to 70 students per classroom.  Our public school teachers are themselves drowning in debt because their salaries cannot keep up with the rising costs of living.  Why would our President extend loans to countries whose Kinder teachers are paid around five times more than ours receive, whose class sizes are sometimes 15 to a teacher?”

Tinio points out that P42.26 B could have translated into a 16.3% increase in the ceiling set by the Department of Budget and Management for DepEd’s appropriations in 2013.  It could have funded additional resources to run his K to 12 Program effectively and with respect to the rights and welfare of teachers and students.  Aquino gave up sufficient allocations for the Universal Kindergarten Education, including P4,453,070,980 for the regularization and bonuses of 20,000 Kinder teachers and about P23.6 B for 34,500 classrooms nationwide.

Tinio also observes that “it is just typical for PNoy to think of ‘poor’ economies in Europe first and not provide for the salary upgrading of teachers, which they have long been demanding.”  The pledge could have answered the budgetary requirements for increasing the salaries of public school teachers from Salary Grade 11 to 15—about P40 B for some 520,000 teachers already in DepEd’s payroll.

Despite gaining the support of more than 180 Members of the House of Representatives, Tinio’s House Bill 2142, or the Public School Teachers’ Salary Upgrading Act, has been lying dormant with the House Committee on Appropriations—waiting for DBM’s comments—since September 20, 2010.

Tinio notes that the $1B pledge is further proof that Aquino’s priorities lie in areas beyond the benefit of the Filipino people.  “In the hopes of raising investor confidence and inviting the US Federal Reserve to buoy our economy—unfounded speculations—PNoy again surrendered the future of Philippine education.”

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