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PIA Press Release

ARMM teachers' welfare campaign launched

Isabela City, Basilan (12 February) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) kicked off a campaign against unauthorized deductions or contributions from the pay checks of teachers in the region, starting with Lanao del Sur where the illegal scheme was reported rampant.

The Bureau of Public Information said in a press dispatch that on his 6th day in office and upon order of regional governor Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong, newly installed DepEd-ARMM Secretary Hamid Barra personally distributed the January pay checks to more than 10,000 teachers from the five (5) divisions of Lanao del Sur province on February 6, 2010 at the Provincial Capitol Gym in Marawi City.

Barra said he was personally directed by the regional governor to "make sure that no teacher will go home without his paycheck."

The inter-personal distribution of checks in Lanao del Sur was first of its kind designed to minimize if not eliminate cases of illegal "contributions" allegedly exacted by local education officials from as much as P1,700 each teacher per month.

Barra said the Adiong leadership is seriously committed to give what is due to teachers. "We mean business this time," he stressed.

He said the January pay checks of teachers in Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were distributed on time through the "usual process" at the division levels.

DepEd-ARMM has more than 22,000 personnel across the region, about 90 percent of which are teachers.

In an interview, Barra stressed that he accepted his appointment in the DepEd on condition he could introduce drastic reforms in the department, something Adiong approved.

"He (Adiong) also wants reforms in DepEd-ARMM. We have the same concern," Barra said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno installed Adiong as acting governor last Dec. 11 following the detention of Regional Governor Zaldy Ampatuan in connection with the Nov. 23 massacre in Maguindanao, and on the heel of reports that teacher-applicants were exacted P100,000 to P150,000 each to get appointed.

Barra said his agency will soon establish a hot line where in teachers and stakeholders could convey their concerns and suggestions thru text messages or call.

Barra is determined to implement reforms based on his four (4) core values ? knowledge, faith, virtue and practice.

The department is conducting Comprehensive Evaluation and Assessment before reforms will take place and this comes in three phases.

Surprise visits will be conducted to inspect physical facilities of schools in the region and to conduct meetings with school heads to listen to their reports and issues and concerns.

Barra assures that the issues and concerns submitted to his office will be looked into. Teachers from all over the region submitted issues like the unremitted GSIS contributions and arrears, delayed approval of appointments and reclassification and the unpaid salaries of some teachers.

"We will gradually deal with all these issues and concerns. We will look for strategies to solve these concerns of our teachers in the region," Barra said.

A compliance and management audit will be conducted to assess the extent if teachers are in conformity with the standing rules and regulation of the department and the finance and personnel of the school or office will also be verified.

Barra also warned fixers in the department that they will be sanctioned if proven that they are involved in the "selling of appointments".

"There will be no sale of items. Those who passed the examination, give them what they deserved. Items are not for sale," Barra stressed.

He called on the more than 20,000 teachers all over the region to do their job and be committed to the profession. "We are here to work as a team, to work for the future of our children. This is for their education," Barra stressed. (johenry/PIA9-BST) [top]

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