MENTORS STAGE RALLY AT DEP OF EDUCATION

MANILA, September 11, 2003 (STAR)  - Public school teachers staged a rally at the Department of Education (DepEd) central office in Pasig City yesterday, voicing out their grievances such as the slow release of their benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the planned move to increase class size from 45 to 60 students.

The rallyists, who are members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said that while their workload gets heavier every year, simple benefits such as loan facilities from the GSIS are not being made available to them.

Antonio Tinio, ACT chairperson, said the GSIS loan facility is very important to public school teachers because they are underpaid.

The GSIS earlier suspended the granting of loans to members supposedly due to the ongoing computerization of the agency.

ACT said that it was actually the DepEd’s failure to settle an P11 billion debt with GSIS that was the cause of the agency’s slow processing of loans and retirement benefits of teachers.

Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz, however, denied that DepEd has any huge debt with the GSIS.

"Public school teachers also have to survive in this hard times, they also have families of their own, they have children to send to school. Due to our meager salary, many of us need low interest loans from the GSIS to meet our obligations," Raymond Villavueva, ACT secretary general told The STAR.

"Teachers’ houses and properties are being repossessed and foreclosed by banks because of the delay," Tinio added.

The ACT officials urged the government to give more attention to their plight even if they have no power to launch armed rebellions like the takeover of a Makati luxury condominium by a band of young soldiers.

The teachers pointed out that the Oakwood takeover, while illegal and disastrous to the country’s economy, had proven effective for the upliftment of soldiers’ welfare since it has forced government to look into their plight. – Rainier Allan Ronda


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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