Gatchalian on World Teachers’ Day: Uphold safety, welfare of education frontliners

Gatchalian on World Teachers’ Day: Uphold safety, welfare of education frontliners

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Amid the celebration of World Teachers’ Day this Tuesday, October 5,
Senator Win Gatchalian reiterates his call to uphold the welfare and
safety of the country’s education frontliners, who have been
sacrificing their health and safety to ensure learning continuity at
this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Gatchalian, the crucial next steps include the vaccination of all
teachers, non-teaching staff, and other school officials, especially
since the Department of Education (DepEd) is set to begin the pilot
testing of limited face-to-face classes in areas with minimal risk of
COVID-19. DepEd earlier announced that full vaccination will be
required for teachers and non-teaching personnel participating in the
pilot run of limited face-to-face classes.

“Kasabay ng unti-unting pagbubukas ng ating mga paaralan ang pagtiyak
na lahat ng ating mga guro ay mababakunahan kontra COVID-19. Kung
mababakunahan na ang lahat ng ating mga guro at mga kawani, matitiyak
nating makakalahok sila kung sakaling mapalawig na ang pagsasagawa ng
face-to-face classes sa buong bansa,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the
Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

While the vaccination of teachers will help mitigate the risk of
COVID-19 transmission in schools, Gatchalian emphasized that it is
equally important to ensure that teachers can turn to the government
if they are infected with the coronavirus disease.

Public school teachers have Philippine Health Insurance Corporation
(PhilHealth) coverage, which they can use if they get infected with
COVID-19. Teachers, however, still need to spend out of their pockets
before receiving reimbursements from the state insurer. One of
Gatchalian’s suggestion is the creation of a PhilHealth special lane
for teachers to allow the speedier provision of aid for COVID-19
treatment.

Gatchalian also recognizes the work of teachers as election
frontliners. In Senate Bill No. 1193 filed in 2019, Gatchalian sought
to exclude from gross income and exempt from taxation the honoraria,
travel allowance, and other benefits granted by the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) to teachers and poll workers under Republic Act
No. 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA). In the past
elections, a 5% tax was imposed on teachers’ election honoraria and
allowances.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa ating mga guro para sa kanilang serbisyo sa
ating bayan. Hindi lang sila frontliners sa edukasyon, mahalaga rin
ang papel nila sa pangangalaga ng ating demokrasya. Kaya naman dapat
nating itaguyod ang kanilang kaligtasan at kapakanan lalo na sa gitna
ng hinaharap nating krisis,” said Gatchalian. (ai/mtvn)

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