Salary hike for teachers 'not a priority,' says Budget chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday said increasing teachers' pay is not the government's priority, despite the President's orders.

"I think that is not a priority at this time. Our priority is 'Build, Build, Build' and the social protection, taking care of the poor," he said during his first press conference for the year.

The Duterte administration is carrying out its "Build, Build, Build" or massive infrastructure program over the next five years. The government expects the projects to cost P8 to P9 trillion. It is aimed to create more jobs and promote economic growth.

The Budget Chief said it would better to consider the pay hike in 2020 after the full implementation of the salary standardization law (SSL).

He pointed out that this year, SSL will raise pay of government workers, including public school teachers, by an average of 15 to 16 percent. Another round of pay hike will be implemented next year.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to find ways to double the salary of teachers under the second package of the tax reform law.

Entry-level teachers in public schools earn P20,000, excluding allowances and bonuses.

Diokno said there are about 600,000 public school teachers, who are paid half a trillion pesos in total. He said doubling their salaries would then cost the government P1 trillion.

He also noted public school teachers earn twice as much as private school teachers.

Diokno added he will tap a private third party organization to study the salaries of teachers and other workers in government, and a position paper will then be submitted to Duterte.

Increasing the pay of teachers, soldiers and policemen was a campaign promise.

Last January 1, the President signed Joint Resolution No. 1 increasing the base pay, allowances, benefits, and incentives of all members of the military, police, and other uniformed personnel in government.

Related: Duterte approves pay hike for soldiers, policemen