Today, the members of CONTEND and all their allied faculty and education workers express their highest praise and acclaim to all teachers, who despite of increasing economic difficulties, dehumanizing bureaucratization of their profession, sinister militarization of schools, and vicious political harassment of teachers’ unions, continue to defend academic freedom and struggle to defend their rights and uphold their dignity. As teachers and education workers, we deplore the way the Duterte administration stonily respond to teachers’ warranted clamor for salary increase.
When Duterte was campaigning, and even when he was already serving as the President, he kept on harping about increasing the salary of public-school teachers. In 2018 he raised the salary and benefits of uniformed men and women. It is now more than three years that Duterte is the President and still the promise of salary increase for teachers is illusive. Today, teachers are burdened with many required paper works, saddled with extra-school works, burn out by extended school hours and assignments, and are wallowing in misery of financial deprivation.
As teachers, we believe that teaching is a vocation. Teaching is above all an emotional labor. We teach because we care and love our students. But it does not follow from this that teachers can be exploited by the state in the pretext that they pledged solemnly to educate our youth. Teachers are also human beings. They must eat and pay their bills in order to survive and continue teaching with dedication and motivation. The underpayment of our teachers is an indicator of the way our market-driven society treats and pays its gratitude to our impoverished teachers. Our teachers need gratitude. But equally important, they need material sustenance and enabling teaching environment.
Hence the demands of teachers for salary increase and better working condition are necessary if we want our teachers to live a decent human life and maintain their self-respect. Our students will have difficulty showing respect for our teachers if our government denigrates their social contributions. Teachers do not just teach! They mold characters, create skillful workers, raise critical citizens, train dedicated leaders, and produce graduates who will shape the future of our nation.
Sadly, as our teachers organize to struggle for their rights and benefits, the US-Duterte administration responds by terror-tagging teachers who organize unions. The military, aided by the rabid anti-communist Senator Bato de la Rosa, are just too eager to enter campuses and universities in order to monitor teachers and students who are allegedly recruiting students to fight the government. The fascist lapdogs of the state, armed with all the resources of the agencies of government, now seek to legislate measures to punish teachers for indoctrinating their students.
Rather than addressing the pressing issues of salary increase, the perennial lack of classrooms and facilities, the need to hire more teachers, the armed agents of the state, using the “communist menace” as an excuse, want to regulate, monitor, and limit the exercise of academic freedom of our teachers.
Such repressive measures ensue from the nee to push the neoliberal reforms of our educational system that want teachers to simply manufacture docile and obedient citizens. For these fascist barbarians, the reasonable clamor of the teachers for salary increase is part of the “communist agenda” to destabilize the state. These fascist barbarians are backed up by our educational bureaucrats who religiously believe that what teachers need is financial literary so they can manage their meager salary.
Today, as we celebrate World Teachers’ Day, we enjoin our fellow teachers to unite and stand against the creeping intrusion of military forces in our schools and the spread of fascist mind-set into our school culture. Fighting for our rights is just and morally right. As teachers we do not beg for our rights to have better teaching conditions and benefits. We fight for them militantly. We cannot maintain our self-worth as teachers if we cower in the face of these threats and harassment perpetrated by the state.
Thus, we urge our fellow teachers to take courage! Teachers are not mere state pawns to transmit skills and knowledge to the young generations. Teachers are leaders, unionists, scholars, researchers, and above all, cultural workers whose duty primarily is to enlighten young minds to use knowledge and skills acquired from schools in order to challenge the neoliberal-inspired philosophies of education and transform their economic edifice.
UPGRADE TEACHERS’ SALARIES NOW!
SALARY INCREASE FOR ALL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES NOW!
HANDS OFF OUR TEACHERS!
DEFEND ACADEMIC FREEDOM!
NO TO MILITARIZATION OF SCHOOLS!
STOP-TERROR TAGGING TEACHERS AN THEIR UNIONS!
TEACH FOR NATIONALIST, SCIENTIFIC AND MASS-ORIENTED EDUCATION!