THE granting of allowances to public school teachers has legal basis.
This was emphasized by former Cebu City Local School Board (LSB) head Raddy Diola as he defended the grant of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), hardship and clothing allowances by the Cebu City government to public school teachers in Cebu City.
The grant of the allowances was recently disallowed by state auditors.
According to Diola, he already provided an explanation to the Commission on Audit (COA) earlier when the city government received an Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) during the time of former mayor Michael Rama, regarding the charging of the allowances for teachers under the Special Education Fund (SEF).
“Number one, the giving of COLA and the hardship allowance has been practiced for years already. In fact, even during the time of Tomas. We just continued that. And besides, we looked into that, there are statutory bases for the giving of allowances,” Diola said.
He said there is no reason for the teachers to refund the COLA, hardship and clothing allowance granted to them by the city government last year.
Just recently, COA issued a Notice of Disallowance on the city’s disbursement of a total of P80.5 million for the teachers’ allowances.
State Auditor IV Ma. Daisy Bercede and Cymbeline Celia Chiong-Uy said the COLA, hardship and clothing allowances are already considered included in the teachers’ basic salary in line with the revised compensation system in government.
COA gave the city government and the concerned officials six months to appeal or explain the disallowance or else it becomes final.
But Diola questioned why COA disallowed the granting of the allowances when it had been a practice for the past 20 years.
He said he will defend the release once he gets an official communication regarding the matter.
“There’s no need for them to refund. In fact, what the teachers are receiving is not even enough. They have been clamoring for augmentation. For example, their COLA needs to be consistent with the cost of living index, but it has always been the same,” he said.
After receiving the Notice of Disallowance, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña issued a memorandum asking the different former officials concerned to settle the disallowance.
Aside from Diola, the memorandum was also addressed to former mayor Michael Rama, former city treasurer Diwa Cuevas, Cebu City Public Schools Teachers Association president Glodel Dexter Flores, Cebu City Federation of Parents-Teachers Associations president Isidro Tumulak Jr. and former Department of Education (Deped) Cebu City Schools Supt. Rhea Mar Angtud.