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[ 26 May 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro urge the Lower House to immediately hear and approve their bill increasing the allowance for teaching supplies to P5,000 per school year.

Tinio and Castro filed in June last year House Bill 474 or the Teaching Supplies Allowance Act to hike from P2,500 to P5,000 the cash allowance for the purchase of chalks, erasers, forms, and other classroom supplies and materials. Popularly known as the “chalk allowance,” it is given yearly to classroom teachers in public schools.

The Senate on Tuesday approved on second reading a counterpart bill to HB 474. Approval on final reading is targeted next week before Congress goes on break.

“Another school year is about to open, and our teachers will again feel the pain of buying chalk, papers, and other supplies they use daily in their classrooms using their own money,” said Castro. “Congress should grab this opportunity to approve the bill and significantly reduce this burden of teachers.”

A former classroom teacher, Castro explained that increasing the allowance to P5,000 will double teachers’ funds for supplies to P24.75 per school day.

The allowance was only P700 in 2012 but increased to P1,000, then to P1,500 in 2015 and P2,500 this year, due to amendments to the annual national budgets proposed by Tinio, and with Castro starting with the 2017 budget.

Tinio urged the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, the panel where the bill is pending, to immediately hear HB 474 and endorse it for approval by the House in plenary, considering the Senate action.

Tinio added that, along with the chalk allowance, Congress should also increase the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of public schools. “The perennial problem of insufficient funds for the maintenance and operations of public schools is what forces our teachers to buy teaching and classroom necessities out of pocket,” he said. ###

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[ 24 May 2017 | No Comment ]

24May 2017
References: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio

Statement of ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on Pres. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao

I denounce President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao as an unjustifiable recourse to fascistic and militarist methods for dealing with social unrest in our society.

Hours before the President’s declaration, the Armed Forces itself assured the public that they were in full control of the situation of Marawi City. Clearly, this localized armed encounter between the AFP and an obscure group with alleged ties to ISIS in Marawi City is being used as a mere pretext for the unwarranted placing of all of Mindanao under martial rule for 60 days.

In last night’s press conference from Russia, Defense Secretary Lorenzana made it clear that the entire Mindanao is under martial law in order to allow the government to deal once and for all not just with the immediate threat posed by terrorist groups such as Maute and Abu Sayaff, but also with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the New People’s Army.

It is ironic that the first President to hail from Mindanao has now placed his home island under martial rule. His declaration paves the way for an intensification of war against the people of Mindanao, especially in Moro and lumad areas, and willlead to even more gross violations of human rights and civil liberties.

It should be noted that this declaration has been in the works for months. The President has been dropping hints and conditioning the public for months that Mindanao is in a state of rebellion and that, consequently, he was considering the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Unfortunately, Pres. Duterte and the hawks in his administration seem to be willfully ignoring the lessons of history. Armed conflict in Mindanao, as in the rest of the country, is rooted in the historic exploitation and oppression of the poor and marginalized – the landless and jobless peasants, the Moro and the lumad. Real solutions require genuine socio-economic and political reforms based on social justice, such as those being discussed in the peace talks, and cannot be attained by a purely military approach. Twenty years of martial rule under Marcos did not lead to peace but to the intensification of popular resistance and the ousting of the dictator.

I hope that Pres. Duterte will heed the lessons of our history, reconsider, and immediately recall his declaration of martial law. Instead, he should more urgently pursue genuine social change through peace talks with the National Democratic Front and the Bangsamoro.

Otherwise, this declaration of martial law in Mindanao must not go unchallenged. it could pave the way for the imposition of martial rule throughout he country, given that the same conditions of social unrest and popular armed resistance may be found nationwide. Martial law must be opposed by all Filipinos who aspire for genuine freedom and democracy. ###18697608_1651396731567395_390051863_o

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[ 16 May 2017 | No Comment ]

16 May 2017


ACT Teachers Representative France Castro pointed out that the Department of Education’s annual Brigada Eskwela is an outright admission of the lack of budget given to education, with teachers, parents and students being made to clean schools and pay for tables and chairs, electric fans, curtains, lockers, and other facilities.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies of the Brigada Eskwela of Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo High School on Monday, Castro said that while the annual program recognizes the spirit of bayanihan among the school administration, the students and the community, Brigada Eskwela exposes the government’s lack of budgetary priority for public schools.

“The government heavily depends on its citizens for the preparation of our schools for the coming school year,” said Castro. “Every Brigada Eskwela, we see teachers and parents spend for paint and other cleaning materials. Lack of personnel to clean and maintain schools are caused by the removal of plantilla non-teaching positions in public schools due to the neoliberal policy of imposing rationalization schemes during the past administrations.

In effect, teachers who are supposed to be resting during their paid vacation leave are made to participate in this program. Castro also noted that, per DepEd Rules, only 3 days service credit will be given for 6 days of service in Brigada. Moreover, the program must be strictly voluntary. Many teachers complain that they are not given the service credits that they are entitled to for participating in the program.

“This dire situation only proves that government is not fully funding for the needs of our schools, through sufficient allotment of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of each and budget to hire enough non-teaching staff for cleaning and maintenance,” Castro said. “The government should not take advantage of the people’s spirit of volunteerism. It should not pass its responsibility to fully provide for public shools to the parents, students and teachers. This is a good opportunity for the Duterte administration, especially its budget and education departments, to reflect on the lack of budget as seen in the situation on the ground.”
“We call on the leadership of DepEd to review their proposed budget for 2018 to increase the MOOE to reflect the actual needs of each public school and to cater to every Filipino student. The government should ensure that we will have appropriate number of items for non-teaching and support staff. In addition, I call on my fellow legislators to ensure that the budget allocation to education for the following year will be sufficient to provide quality basic education,” Castro ended. ###

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[ 15 May 2017 | No Comment ]
tonchi peace

tonchi peaceACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro demand the immediate release of Rommel Salinas, consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), who was arrested in Ozamis City together with Bishop Carlo Morales of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente. Salinas is protected under the Joint Agreement of Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Bishop Morales was subsequently released.

JASIG is one of the agreements between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and NDFP which are now in the middle of peace talks and drafting of Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

The JASIG provides all duly accredited NDFP consultants immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation and any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations. The guarantees also extend to persons who assist them in the performance of their work in the peace talks.

“The illegal arrest of Salinas constitutes a flagrant violation by military agents of JASIG. This disregard of JASIG directly sabotages the ongoing peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP. Salinas must be released immediately,” Tinio stressed.

“Aside from the illegal arrest, there are more reports of surveillance, harassment, and threats on the other NDFP peace consultants. Recently, the Tiamzons, Benito and Wilma, were tailed by suspected military agents after they visited the Lapanday farm workers camping at Mendiola. Also, another alarming incident is the shoot-to-kill order and abduction plan against NDFP consultants based in Mindanao,” Castro said.

“We urge the GRP to rein in its military, paramilitary, and police agents threatening and harassing peace consultants, their staff, and other people in violation of its commitments at the peace table. It should also look seriously into these incidents and take whatever appropriate measures to hold accountable the violators,” Tinio ended. ###