Protesters assailed the railroading of the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7 came in time for the session break of the House Committee of the Whole which will resume on April 29.

RBH 7 has been approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives despite massive opposition among sectors since the Marcos Jr. administration’s charter change, through ‘people’s initiative’ dubbed as a deceptive signature campaign, was packaged as financial aid in urban poor communities earlier this year.

A majority of 288 legislators–with eight voted against and two abstain—most of whom co-authored the proposed measure, favored to amend the 1987 Constitution by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in provisions limiting foreign ownership on public utilities, schools, media, and advertising.

Progressive groups participated by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan National Capital Region (BAYAN NCR) slammed the RBH 7 that aims to convene Congress into a constitutional assembly (con-Ass) to pave way for Charter change (Cha-cha).

“Sabi nila, wala raw hidden agenda rito pero malinaw po sa atin na tinututulan natin ito dahil kahit na economic provisions lamang daw ang sinasabing pagbabago, magbubukas ito ng napakaraming pagbabago sa pulitika at ekonomya,” said Gabriela Women’s Partylist representative Arlene Brosas.

[They say there’s no hidden agenda here, but it’s clear to us that we oppose this because even though they claim it’s only about economic provisions, it will actually lead to significant changes in politics and the economy]

Chacha leads to more out-of-school youth

Grade 5 teacher Roel Mape worried that the proposed charter change will result in an uptick of out-of-school youth.

“Kung wala nang pambayad ng matrikula, ang pwedeng mangyari rito ay mas dadami ang out of school youth. Mawawalan ng pag-asa na makapagtapos dahil hindi na nila kaya ang makapag-aral sa mga pampublikong state colleges,” said Mape.

[With no source to pay for tuition fees, the potential outcome is an increase in the number of out-of-school youth. They might lose hope of completing their education because they can no longer afford to study at public state colleges]

In 2022, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported 18.6% or an equivalent of 7.85 million aged five to 24 years were not enrolled in school.

Mape was able to make in the protest in the House of Representatives (HOR) after his class schedule in the morning.

Mape has been teaching for two decades already. Now, he handles Grade 5 students of Apolonio Samson Elementary School in Quezon City. He teaches six sections for six hours with about 40-50 students in his class.

“Kung papaboran ang privatization sa mga dayuhang negosyante, saan na pupunta ang maralitang mamamayan? Saan pwedeng makapag-aral ang maralitang estudyante kung gagawin itong private? Syempre kapag private, tubo ang tinutukoy rito. Walang ibang tutunguhin ito kundi tubo ang gusto nilang mangyari,” Mape added.

[If privatization favors foreign investors, where will the impoverished citizens go? Where can impoverished students study if it becomes privatized? Of course, when it’s private, profit is the aim here. This will lead nowhere but to profit-making, that’s what they want to happen]

The RBH 7 aims to remove 40% foreign ownership limit for public utilities, education and advertising firms. Currently, there have been 88% privately-owned universities and college institutions according to the National Union of Students of the Philippines National Capital Region (NUSP-NCR).

Mape also lamented on the quality of education following the dismal performance of Filipino students at the 2022 report of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Walang interes ang gobyerno na tulungan ang mga mag-aaral. Walang interes na tugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng mga eskwelahan, ang daming kulang na classrooms, mga teachers. Paano natin matatanaw na aangat pa ang kalidad ng edukasyon kung mismong gobyerno ay walang pagtanaw sa pag-angat ng edukasyon sa Pilpinas?” Mape added.

[The government has no interest in helping students. There’s no interest in addressing the needs of schools; there’s a shortage of classrooms and teachers. How can we expect the quality of education to improve when the government itself doesn’t prioritize the advancement of education in the Philippines?]

Mape further assailed on the dire working conditions among teachers.

“20 years na ako sa pagtuturo. Pasikip nang pasikip na ang mundo ng mga teachers, overworked kami. Last year tapos na ang standard salary law (SSL) ng mga teachers. Ngayong taon ay talagang pikit-mata, wala kaming matatanggap na umento o kahit man lang kapiranggot na sahod. Kawawa ang sektor ng edukasyon lalo na rin ang mga guro,” said Mape.

[I’ve been teaching for twenty years. The world of teachers is getting narrower and narrower, and we are overworked. Last year, the Standard Salary Law (SSL) for teachers was already completed. But this year, it seems we won’t receive any salary increase or even a tiny raise. The education sector, especially the teachers, is pitiful]

On January 2020, the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2019 was signed enacted which rolled out four (4) tranches of automatic salary increases every year from 2020 until 2023.

Under the SSL, public school teachers, nurses and staff of government hospitals, and workers in local and national government agencies, will be getting automatic salary adjustment from 2020 until 2023.

According to Mape, entry-level public school teachers’ monthly salary ranges for about P27,000 or Salary Grade 11. However, he lamented that this amount would not suffice for a teacher’s daily expenses, which are comparable to those of an ordinary citizen, particularly with the surge in prices of basic commodities such as rent, electricity, and water bills.

 “Ang mga teachers natin para makapag-aral ng masters ay ipinangungutang nila ito. Kaya lubog na lubog ang sitwasyon namin,” he added.

[Our teachers have to borrow money just to pursue a master’s degree. That’s why our situation is really dire]

ACT Teachers Partylist alongside the Makabayan bloc has filed House Bill 9920 which seeks to increase the monthly salary among beginning teachers to P50,000 or Salary Grade 15.

Mape recalled the Magna Carta of Public School Teachers which was also filed since 2022.

“Ang Magna Carta, nariyan nakasulat. Pero hindi namin ito natatamasa. Tulad niyan, sa pagtaas ng sahod, hindi naman ito sinusunod ng gobyerno. Sa NTF-ELCAC na napakalaki ng badyet pero pagdating sa usapin ng sahod, paghingi ng mga guro rito ay napakadamot ng gobyerno,” Mape added.

[The Magna Carta is there in form. But we don’t experience it. For instance, with salary increases, the government does not grant any of it. All while the NTF-ELCAC has a huge budget, but when it comes to salary issues, the government is very stingy in granting the requests of teachers.]

The bill remained pending with the Committee on Basic Education and Culture.


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