Duterte defuses Diokno’s ‘bomb’

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and President Rodrigo Détente

MANILA – Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday said he was only speculating when he said President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to double the salaries of public school teachers, in the same way he did for the police and soldiers.

“What I said was… I am not sure how much the increase [would be]…. Judging from the military and police… [it] could be doubled… No mistake there since I said I do not know how much and speculated only,” Roque said, a day after Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said raising pay for teachers was not a priority.

But Roque countered Diokno’s assertion and said public school teachers would get their pay hikes “soon.”

He reiterated that the President had asked his Cabinet members during their Jan. 8 meeting to find ways to increase the salary of teachers.

“I’m unequivocally stating that the President ordered everyone to study how to increase the salary of teachers,” he said.

Diokno on Wednesday said raising teachers’ pay would cost the government an additional P500 billion.

The government needs the money to fund its massive infrastructure projects under its “Build, Build, Build” program, Diokno said.

Roque insisted, however, that the President would keep his promise.
“The President wants to increase the salary of teachers. The intention is there. It will not be taken back,” Roque said.

“It will take time but it will happen during his administration,” he added.
Diokno on Wednesday said it would be better to carry out a pay raise in 2020 with the full implementation of the Salary Standardization Law.

He said the law will raise the pay of government workers, including public school teachers, by an average of 15 percent to 16 percent this year. Another round of pay hikes will be carried out next year.

He added that public school teachers are already paid more than their private sector counterparts.

At present, an entry-level teacher in a public school earns P20,000, excluding allowances and bonuses.