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[ 23 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

While “fake news” has gained currency, due mainly to the easy accessibility of social media, it’s not new. Misinformation, propaganda, and malicious speech have been around for as long as there’s been mass media. For the most part, they fall within freedom of expression.

Nevertheless, there are already existing laws that penalize abuse of this right, such as laws on libel or the code of ethics of government officials.

The fake news bill in the Senate takes an overly broad definition of “fake news” and thus could substantially limit the right to free expression and freedom of the press. The proliferation of fake news is better countered through education, self-regulation by the mass media, and judicious application of existing laws.###

Activities, Features, Headline, News »

[ 16 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]
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ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro urged the Duterte administration to increase the salaries of teachers and other government workers, as they joined the teachers’ mobilization at the Department of Budget and Management Friday.

“Today, we support the just and resounding call of teachers and non-teaching personnel, as well as the rest of those making up the bureaucracy, for salaries that can afford them decent lives,” Castro said. “We are bothered that, even after nearly a year, we do not see the same support from the Duterte administration.”

Castro noted that President Duterte’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is silent as to salary increases for government personnel, majority of whom are teachers and non-teaching staff.

“We call on President Duterte to issue an unequivocal support for this just demand,” said Tinio. “Since his budget chief Benjamin Diokno expressed an aversion to this demand, President Duterte himself should place as a top priority legislated salary increases greater than the one started by Aquino through his Executive Order 201.”

The solons last year scored Diokno for saying, during the 2017 budget deliberations, that salary increases for public school teachers is “too ambitious.”

“Merely continuing EO 201 is not enough as it gives loose change only for our teachers and other rank-and-file personnel while giving large increases for executives and high ranking officials. We reiterate our demand for P25,000 for Teacher 1 and P16,000 for our personnel,” Castro said. “Our teachers and personnel in the education sector are our front liners and do more than teach our children their school lessons. With today’s rising prices of basic goods and services, they need more than what we are giving them now.”

The demand for P16,000 monthly minimum salary is also the call of other government employees.

“We call on all teachers and government workers to unite and fight for their right for sufficient salaries and benefits in the coming State of the Nation Address of President Duterte. Let us also make them hear our demands in the coming 2018 budget proposal,” Tinio said. “As for President Duterte, we challenge him to prove to our teachers that his promises for salary increases will not stay as a campaign promise.” ###

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Activities, Features, Headline »

[ 4 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]
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ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro saw no significant impact from the Conditional Cash Transfer program in improving enrollment and completion rates in elementary and secondary schools.

“We have observed little improvement, even decreases in the enrollment and completion rates from 2011 to 2015. This is despite the hefty increases in the budget for the Conditional Cash Transfer,” Castro said.

Citing data from DepEd, the solons said that participation or net enrollment rate (NER) for public and private schools went down by 6.05 percentage points from 97.10% (14.44 million out of 14.87 million elementary school-age children) in 2011 to 91.05% (14.35 million out of 15.76 million) in 2015. Elementary school-age children not enrolled in Grades 1 to 6 more than tripled from around 431,000 in 2011 to 1.41 million 2015.

Though high school NER increased from 64.2% (7.05 million out of 10.98 million high school-age youth) to 68.15% (7.35 million out of 10.79 million), the number of high school-age youth not enrolled in first to fourth year remain high with 3.44 million in 2015.

The CCT or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) also did little to improve the high school completion rate (CR). While elementary school CR rose from 71.01% (10.25 million) to 84.02% (12.05 million), fewer youths finished high school, with the CR declining from 74.4% (5.25 million, or 1.8 million dropouts) in 2011 to 74.03% (5.44 million, or 1.9 million dropouts) in 2015.

The wide gaps or differences between the enrollment figures for elementary and those for high school also indicate that a significant number of those in elementary school do not go on to enroll and finish high school, the solons added.

The 4Ps gives a grant of P300 per child every month for ten months, or a total of P3,000 every year, with a maximum of three children per household. Children-beneficiaries aged 3 to 18 must enroll in school, and attend classes at least 85% of class days every month.

The Aquino administration expanded the 4Ps, increasing nearly three times its budget from P21.2 billion in 2011 to P62.7 billion in 2016. It was given P62.3 billion in 2015.

The program now has a budget of nearly P78.19 billion according to the 2017 General Appropriations Act.

“Government has been throwing more and more of the people’s money into the 4Ps, on the promise that it will, among others, afford children from poor families the chance to go to school and finish education. But, from government’s own data, we do not see this promise being fulfilled,” said Castro.

“Instead of continuing the implementation of a failed program, government should directly fund basic social services like education, health, and housing that would directly help the poor and marginalized. Direct investments in public education, for instance, will enable more Filipino youth to avail of and complete free education, ” Tinio said. “Stop wasting the people’s money in safety nets that have been proven to be ineffective.”

“The little to no improvement in enrollment and completion rates in elementary and secondary schools reflects on the capacity of government to provide universal access to basic education. There are still a lot of shortages in public school education that have to be addressed like the lack of public high schools especially in rural areas, the low salaries that teachers and school staff receive, and lack in facilities especially in the proper implementation of the K to 12,” Tinio ended. ###

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Features, Headline, In The News, News »

[ 2 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on DBM Secretary Diokno’s recommendation to veto chalk allowance hike

We’re dismayed that at this early stage, DBM Secretary Diokno is already talking about vetoing the increase in the so-called chalk allowance as prjovided in a bill recently passed in the Senate. The counterpart measure in the House hasn’t even been discussed yet.

His justification that many public schools now use whiteboards belies an utter ignorance of the situation on the ground. Aside from its patent inaccuracy, the annual “chalk allowance’ is used by teachers to pay, not just for chalk, but for other teaching supplies required in the classroom everyday, and which government does not provide them.

Despite the fact that we have been able to successfully raise the chalk allowance from a measly P700 per year in 2011 to P2, 500 currently through yearly interventions in the budget hearings, it’s still not enough, and public school teachers continue to pay for teaching supplies out of pocket. Hence, the necessity of enacting the hike. Our own proposal in the House is ready for swift passage.

This proposal will cost the government P1.5 billion at best. It’s unfortunate that Sec. Diokno has chosen to direct his niggardly penny-pinching at teachers.###