Catch your breath, governor

Catch your breath, governor

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba.

A reverberant backlash has inundated the provincial government of Cagayan, soon as its governor, 62-year-old Manuel Mamba, was heard nationwide in a weekend radio interview that teachers’ salaries should be reduced during the pandemic because they turn in less amount of work.

The governor, who has been in public service for more than 30 years, including as member of the House of Representatives for nine years until 2010, added teachers should not be complaining but should do their job well so the government would not go bankrupt.

Soon as the interview on October 3 ended, teachers from the different corridors and academes, raised their displeasure, distaste and odium over Mamba’s statements, which incidentally the Department of Education, through DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and spokesperson Annalyn Sevila said might have been taken out of context.

“We at DepEd do not want to take that statement personally. Maybe he has a reason why he said those, as a governor and a head of the province, maybe something happened there so he said that,” Sevilla told the Daily Tribune.

What we find uproariously stomach-churning is the fast defense that his statement could have been taken out of context. Out of context by the teachers? They who know what is good manners and right conduct which are the muscle of their modules even long before the pandemic?

But what did Mamba, who later said he was just being fatherly, say that could have been taken out of context?

Let’s read his lips from the interview and the post of the provincial government which was eventually taken down from its website: “Well sa tingin ko nag-eenjoy sila, nagsu-sweldo sila, wala silang ginagawa. Kaya nga dapat, huwag na silang magreklamo dahil sa totoo lang po, I think mayroon tayong law na kapag ganito na work from home, tatanggalan (ng sahod) ng kaunti.”

Fast like a smashing clap from east of the Cagayan eastern seaboard, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili of the University of Hawaii quickly posted on his Facebook timeline: “To all the Mambas of the world–please check what the poor teachers of the Filipin kawntri are doing especially at this time. THE LEAST THAT YOU CAN DO IS HONOR THEIR SACRIFICES, ’em teachers, classroom teachers, who have to keep on taking out a loan from their policy, GSIS, SSS, or loan sharks to get by and procure their classroom needs and supplies.”

In another post, Agcaoili said: “PRESENTING, A LEADER LIKE HIM. I hope he does not have a mother, sister, aunt, grandma, daughter in law, cousin, or any male relative who is NOT a teacher.

My relatives in that place tell me of a different story and his callousness is that: CALLOUSNESS.

TEACHERS, this is your leader.”

Eugene Solla, chair of the University of the Philippines College of Education Student Council, said it’s “quite unfortunate that Mamba thinks teachers are enjoying themselves” when they do more outside of their job descriptions even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Val Leaño Pascua also commented: “Napaka insensitive at irresponsible remark coming from a public official. (It only shows) he is not in direct contact with the public school teachers.”

Emmalyn Policarpio, Secretary-General of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition, said she was personally hurt by this as she dedicated a whole day to record and edit a video orientation for her students for Monday’s school opening, on top of paper works she had to finish.

“I almost cried when I heard what the governor said, especially now that I’ve been having a difficult time adapting to our new roles. I want Governor Mamba to know that every teacher since March has not stopped working, whether from home or on-site,” Policarpio said.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers president Joselyn Fegalan said Mamba had no right to accuse teachers of doing less work as teachers were in fact burdened by greater workload due to the Department of Education’s blended learning scheme.

“Teachers deserve an apology. You go back to that radio station and say sorry,” Fegalan said.

Mamba in a statement the day after the interview apologized, saying he did not mean to hurt any teacher, adding he wanted to challenge everyone with his remarks and that he has high regard for teachers as shown by his administration’s involvement of teachers in provincial government projects.

Mamba added he was just being “fatherly” in lecturing just as he was in admitting mistakes.

“Sa ating mga teachers, if you misunderstood me, I am sorry. But I did not mean to hurt anyone of you. I wanted to challenge each and everyone of us to show our people that we are still relevant despite the fact na walang face-to-face for so many months now.

“Nakita niyo naman po, I involve you in my programs because I want you to be relavant. Mataas po ang tingin ko sa edukasyon basically because I am a creation of education. ‘Yan po ang nangyari sa pamilya namin.

“Rest assured that your provincial government, under the leadership of Governor Manuel Mamba, will always be behind sa lahat ng gagawin…Dahil ako po yung ‘tatay” na nagse-sermon. Ako po yung ‘tatay’ na nagagalit. Ako rin po yung ‘tatay’ na marunong tumanggap ng kamalian. Ako din po yung ‘tatay’ na naniniwala na may Diyos.”

We find the apology droopingly pendulous, despite his argument that he was just being fatherly. Was Mamba any near the meaning of “fatherly” like protective, supportive, kindly, warm or affectionate when he, according to him, “challenged” the teachers to do better?

Again, what a distortion of the word challenge. That is not at all a healthy way to provoke the teachers who are doing their best under very limited resources and space – given that some local government units have in fact encouraged their teachers and helped them provide equipment needed by students under the new normal without “challenging” them to do better.

But some choose to be some odd man out.

Governor, catch your breath while the teachers try to regain their confidence unduly skewered.

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