Cebu City public school teachers appeal for release of allowances
THREE months after the Commission on Audit (COA) disallowed the release of allowances to Cebu City’s public school teachers, a teacher’s union has appealed for help in getting their allowances back.
In a letter to Cebu City Councilor Margarita Osmeña, the city’s deputy mayor for budget and finance, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) explained that they needed their allowance to augment income while living in a highly urbanized city.
ACT asked Osmeña to sponsor a city budget ordinance that will facilitate its lawful release.
“The entry level salary of a teacher is only P18,549 at Salary Grade 11. Our take home pay merely covers the increasing costs of raising a family and living in a highly urbanized city such as Cebu,” said Antonia Lim, president of ACT Region 7.
Last June, the Commission on Audit (COA) disallowed the release of P2,000 cost of living allowance (Cola) for Cebu City’s public school teachers which were taken by the Local School Board from the city’s Special Education Fund (SEF).
State auditors Ma. Daisy Bercede and Cymbeline Celia Chiong-Uy of COA issued a Notice of Disallowance on the city’s disbursement of P80.5 million in teachers’ allowances, saying that the Cola and the hardship and clothing allowances were already considered included in the teachers’ basic salary in line with government’s revised compensation system.
Lim, in her letter to Osmeña, however, pointed out that other highly urbanized cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) and even Bacolod City were giving public school teachers between P1,500 to P3,000 monthly allowance, rice subsidy and grocery allowance.
The union of teachers said that even with the COA disallowance, the city can still allot funds for them.
But instead of taking the budget out of the SEF, it can be charged to the city’s General Fund, the teachers’ union suggested.
“The Cebu City’s Cola amounting to P2,000 per month, which is sourced out from SEF and was disallowed by COA, (can) be sourced out from the General Fund and be termed as Local City Cost of Living Allowance (LC Cola),” said Lim.
Lim backed her contentions by citing a joint circular order issued by the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the prioritization of expenses.
Joint Circular No. 01 of 1998 says that “any additional allowances that may be granted to teachers by local government units shall be charged to the General Fund of LGUs, subject to the existing budgeting rules and regulations.”
Sought for comment by Cebu Daily News, Osmeña said that she still had to read the letter-request from the teachers’ union.
ACT has a total membership of around 2,200 public elementary and high school teachers in Cebu City.
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