Teachers’ Wages Deteriorate As Tuition Fees Soar

While Filipino families are still coping from escalating prices of basic commodities like rice, bread and meat products and the never-ending rise of oil prices, they are once again faced by enrollment woes this month: tuition fee hikes.

The Department of Education has already announced that the tuition fee increase in private elementary and high schools this school year may range from 2% to 10%. Such can only be expected from a deregulated and commercialized education system, with the government allowing schools to increase their fees at will, the Educators’ Forum for Development (EFD) said.

But while tuition fees in years past went up by as much as 20%, teachers’ compensation has been declining by as much based on the government’s own survey.

According to the latest Occupational Wages Survey of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, the average monthly wage rates of teaching professionals in private elementary and high schools range from P12,039 to P13,906 as of 2006. What is shocking is that these wages shrank by as much as 20% compared to what teachers received in 2004. (See Table)

Average Monthly Wage Rates of Full-Time Teachers in Private Education Services, June 2004 and August 2006 (in peso)

2004    2006    % Change

General Secondary Education Teachers        14,991    12,039    (19.7)
Science and Mathematics Teachers               14,626    13,034    (10.9)
Vocational Education Teachers                     13,219    13,324    0.8
General Elementary Education Teachers        14,486    13,800   (4.7)
Science and Math Elem. Educ Teachers        15,434    13,906    (9.9)
Pre-Elementary Education Teachers              12,842    12,389    (3.5)

Source: Occupational Wages Survey, Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics

According to online job services company Jobstreet.com, the lowest salary a fresh grad teacher actually receives from private schools is a measly P7,000. Even teachers with one to four years experience are paid as low as P8,500 a month. Based on this, the lowest paid public school teacher with a basic pay of P10,933 appears to be better off.

The DepEd justifies the approval of petitions for tuition fee hikes with its so-called 70-20-10 requirements – 70% of the increase should go to the upgrading of school equipment, 20% for the acquisition of textbooks, and 10% for teachers’ salary upgrade. Yet even this paltry 10% for the faculty does not reach their hands. It is clear that teachers continue to be underpaid and their supposed share in the yearly tuition increases is only a figment of government officials’ imagination.

The EFD, an association of teachers and educators committed to social transformation, deplores the government’s abandonment of its responsibility to ensure the people’s access to education.

The EFD also takes issue with the government and private school owners’ use of teachers’ pay hike as an excuse to raise tuition fees. Teachers indeed deserve higher compensation for decent living, but school owners should provide this without charging the students exorbitant tuition and other fees.

ON ZERO OIL TARIFF CUT: RELIEVE CONSUMERS, NOT OIL FIRMS

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation criticizes the Department of Energy and Malacañang for passing the zero oil tariff cut, saying that reduced tariffs in the last three months has resulted in even higher prices of oil products.   Since the oil tariff was reduced from 3% to 2% in February and 2% to 1% in May, gasoline and diesel prices have increased 11 times to a total of P7.50 per liter. There were two rollbacks of P1.50 per liter for diesel and P1.00 for gasoline presumably brought about by the tariff cut. But since then, pump prices have actually increased by a net of P6 per liter.   The DOE announced yesterday that starting June, imported oil products will enjoy zero tariff cut. It admitted though that the scrapping of oil tariffs would result only in a reduction of P0.50 per liter in pump prices. But local oil firms recently announced that they are looking at a P1.50 per liter increase in diesel prices and P1.00 per liter for gasoline following news world oil prices had hit US$135 per barrel, debunking government argument that the oil tariff cut will bring down oil prices.   Moreover, by choosing to remove tariffs on oil imports, government protects the interests of the oil firms at the expense of potential revenues that should be used to fund vital social services.   IBON maintains that the removal of the VAT on oil is still a more effective solution to the high oil prices. Removing the VAT on oil will immediately bring down pump prices by as much as P5 per liter and directly relieve the consumers, unlike the oil tariff cut that only relieves oil companies from paying import duties.

DON’T BE RUSHED INTO TRADE DEAL WITH E.U., THINK-TANK WARNS

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation said that the Philippine government should not  rush into negotiations for a partnership cooperation agreement (PCA) with the European Union (EU).

IBON research head Sonny Africa said the EU Ambassador’s statement that the Philippines was slow in negotiating for a PCA compared with neighboring countries Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand was merely a way of pitting Asean member-countries against each other to coerce and rush them into concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU.

Africa pointed out that the ultimate agenda behind such an EU-ASEAN FTA was to liberalize Southeast Asia ‘s services sectors to European corporations, citing that three-quarters of the EU’s gross domesti c p roduct is in the services sector.

This could result in privatization of vital sectors such as water, Africa said, citing the EU’s two water related programs– the EU Water Facility and the EU Water Initiative. Civil society organizations have accused both programs of favoring privatization over state or community operations of water utilities.

Africa also pointed out that the EU’s moves to complete an FTA with ASEAN are also an expression of its rivalry with the US to expand its economic sphere of influence in the region.

With the slow developments in the World Trade Organization, developed countries like the US , Japan and EU members are now pushing for bilateral free trade agreements to hasten economic liberalization in developing countries and gain unhampered access to their markets. However, poor nations have witnessed their livelihood get worse from decades of free trade, while developed countries continue to protect their economic advantages.

STUDY OTHER REVENUE MEASURES OUTSIDE VAT, GOV’T URGED

Malacanang consistently refuses to repeal the reformed value-added tax (RVAT) on oil and power saying that it will harm the country’s revenues. But according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation, there are measures that government can implement which are less burdensome and can generate more revenues than the RVAT.

These measures include improving revenue performance, which according to the National Tax Research Center, could earn the government an average of P57 billion annually in uncollected VAT on items other than petroleum products and P82 billion in uncollected corporate taxes as of 2006.

If government increases its tax collection efforts from 14% of the gross domestic product to 16%, this can produce at least P94 billion in a year. These revenues are more than enough to cover the revenue losses from the removal of VAT on oil and power.

Removing the RVAT on oil and power will also help mitigate the significant supply-side pressure on inflation due to high global oil prices and may decrease the inflation rate by 0.5-0.8 percentage points, especially since global oil prices are expected to continue increasing at least through 2008, with improvement only in 2009.

Raising revenues through a regressive VAT is convenient only for the government, which amid the spiraling cost of basic goods and services, should implement revenue-generation measures that do not unduly burden the poor Filipino majority– which is unfortunately what the regressive VAT does

LIVELIHOOD WORSE TODAY, SAYS MOST FILIPINOS

More Filipinos feel that their livelihood worsened compared to the previous quarter, according to the latest results of the nationwide survey conducted by research group IBON Foundation.

The April 2008 nationwide survey shows that the number of Filipinos who said that their livelihood worsened grew significantly from 46.3% in January 2008 to 64.3% in April. Those who answered that their livelihood got better fell from 6.1% in January to 4.4% in the latest survey.

Asked if their family’s income is enough for their needs, 71% of the respondents said that it is not enough, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from January 2008.

The latest IBON survey was conducted across various sectors nationwide with 1,495 respondents from April 7 to 16. The survey used multi-stage probability sampling and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

Below is the tabulation of results of respondents’ perception of their livelihood and income.

How is your livelihood today compared to a year ago?

January 2008 April 2008
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Better 92 6.12 66 4.41
Same 686 45.64 449 30.03
Worse 696 46.31 962 64.35
Don’t know 21 1.40 14 0.94
No answer 8 0.53 4 0.27
Total 1,503 100.00 1,495 100.00

Is your family’s income enough for its needs?

January 2008 April 2008
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
More than enough 13 0.86 25 1.67
Enough 543 36.13 380 25.42
Not Enough 928 61.74 1,069 71.51
Don’t know 13 0.86 19 1.27
No answer 6 0.40 2 0.13
Total 1,503 100.00 1,495 100.00

INCREASING NUMBER OF FILIPINOS SEE THEMSELVES POOR

The number of Filipinos who see themselves as poor increased in the first four months of the year, according to the results of the latest IBON nationwide survey.

The IBON April 2008 survey showed that 79.3% of 1,495 respondents thought of themselves as poor, an increase from 71.7% in January 2008.

The latest IBON survey was conducted across various sectors nationwide from April 7 to 16, 2008 using a multi-stage probability sampling scheme with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

Below is the tabulation of results of the respondents’ self-rated poverty

When you look at your situation today, do you think of yourself as poor?

January 2008 April 2008
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Yes 1,077 71.66 1,186 79.33
No 269 17.90 236 15.79
Don’t Know 141 9.38 68 4.55
No answer 16 1.06 5 0.33
Total 1,503 100.00 1,495 100.00

The full results of the IBON April 2008 Survey may be viewed at www.ibon.org .

7 OUT OF 10 FILIPINOS CAN’T BUY ENOUGH FOOD, HAVE TROUBLE PAYING ELECTRICITY BILLS, BASIC COSTS

More Filipinos have trouble buying enough food and paying for basic expenses, according to the latest IBON nationwide survey.

Of the 1,495 respondents, 75.3% said that their family had a problem buying enough food, a substantial increase from 63.2% last January, while 69.7% had trouble paying for electricity and water bills.

The survey also showed that 67.42% of respondents have difficulty paying for transportation costs, compared to 60.6% in January; 73.4% had a problem buying their medicines or paying for their medical treatment; and 68.2% had trouble paying for their children’s tuition.

The April 2008 IBON Survey was conducted from April 7 to 16 across various sectors and regions nationwide with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent (end).

Below is the tabulation of results of respondents’ problems meeting basic expenses.

In the past three (3) months, has your family had a problem meeting the following expenses?

January 2008

April 2008

Frequency

Percentage

Frequency

Percentage

Buying enough food

950

63.21

1,126

75.32

Paying for children’s schooling

997

66.33

1,020

68.23

Paying for transportation

911

60.61

1,008

67.42

Paying for water and/or electricity

1,006

66.93

1,042

69.70

Buying medicines/paying for medical treatment

1,024

68.13

1,097

73.38

SIX OUT OF TEN FILIPINOS WANT OIL DEREGULATION LAW REPEALED

IBON SURVEY

In the wake of weekly oil price hikes and skyrocketing pump prices, six out of ten Filipinos said they favored the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, according to the latest survey conducted by independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

Results of the April 2008 IBON survey showed that 58.6% of respondents said they agree with proposals to restore government regulation of the local oil industry and repeal the Oil Deregulation Act (RA 8479). The law, which was implemented in 1998, removed government control over the downstream oil industry.

The IBON nationwide survey was conducted nationwide from April 7 to 16, 2008 with 1,495 respondents from various sectors, using a multi-stage probability sampling scheme with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

Below is the tabulation of results of the respondents’ perception on returning government regulation on the oil industry.

Do you agree with the proposals to return government regulation on the oil industry and to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law?

January 2008 April 2008
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Yes 891 59.28 876 58.60
No 383 25.48 369 24.68
Don’t Know 218 14.50 235 15.72
No answer 11 0.73 15 1.00
Total 1,503 100.00 1,495 100.00

THINK-TANK SLAMS PROPOSAL TO CUT RICE TARIFF

Importation not a solution but the reason behind worsening rice crisis

The bid to lower rice tariffs to bring in more importation is a problematic proposal since the country’s growing dependence on rice imports is precisely the reason behind the worsening rice crisis.

In reaction to the proposal made at the government’s Food Summit to reduce tariffs to as low as 12%, independent think-tank IBON Foundation says that rice importation has not resulted in lowered rice prices, but worsened the bankruptcy of farmers and even placed the country to greater food insecurity.

The group added that rice tariff cuts will allow higher profit margins for private traders and will only give them further control of rice prices and ultimate monopoly in the distribution of rice.

Instead of cutting tariffs and allowing more importation, government should do the opposite: re-impose regulatory mechanisms on food supply that were removed by liberalization and provide enough subsidies and other support services for rice farmers.

IBON stresses the need to resist impositions made by international creditors like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to bring down rice tariffs and increase food importation..

Government should also immediately increase NFA’s  palay procurement from its dismal 5-year average of 0.05% of the total palay production to effectively influence the market. This will directly benefit local farmers, and will help NFA address the issue of hoarding by rice cartels.

AS GOV’T HOLDS FOOD SUMMIT : REVERSE RP’S DEPENDENCE ON FOOD IMPORTS, THINK-TANK URGES

The Philippines has become too dependent on food importation to make up for its shortfalls in domestic production and should reverse this trend, says independent think-tank IBON Foundation as the Department of Agriculture opens its Food Summit today.

“Importation should only be a short-term solution to supply shortages, “ said IBON executive editor Rosario Bella Guzman.

“In the long-term the government must make the country self-sufficient in the production of its staple foods such as rice, not just to guarantee that Filipinos have enough to eat without relying on foreign markets, but also to ensure sustainable development.”

According to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the country imported 808,000 metric tons (MT) of rice in 2001, or 10% of total rice disposable of 8.1 million MT. By 2006, imports had grown to 1.7 million MT or 17% of total rice disposable of 10.3 million MT.

As the Department of Agriculture made a positive step of raising the buying price of palay to P17 per kilogram from P12, it should ensure that traders do not translate this to unreasonably higher prices of commercial rice.

Government should also allocate more funds for buying from local farmers, said Guzman. If the P5 billion announced by Pres. Arroyo were used, it would only buy some 300,000 MT– less than one percent of the expected production this year of 7.2 million MT of palay.

If the estimated P62 billion that would be used this year for imports were allocated for local procurement, the NFA could purchase from farmers 3.6 million MT of palay. Aside from benefiting local farmers, this would also help NFA address the issue of hoarding by unscrupulous rice traders.

“The Food Summit should focus on such urgent measures that will help improve our local producers,” said Guzman. “The country’s experience since the 1990s clearly shows that importation has only terribly worsened the country’s self-sufficiency in food.”