Teachers cite module fiasco, allowance turndown
MAPANDAN, Pangasinan: Thousands of public school teachers in elementary and junior and senior high schools in Pangasinan have urged President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Education Secretary Leonor Briones, saying she is no longer capable of serving and performing her duties and responsibilities.
“How can we assure the public that we can deliver good quality education to our children when our DepEd (Department of Education) secretary is not only incompetent, undesirable but also too old to hold a Cabinet office,” according to three public school district supervisors from Dagupan City Schools Division Office under Superintendent Celia Ligaya Fernandez, who all refused to be named.
Briones turned 80 on Oct. 16, 2020.
In an interview with The Manila Times on Friday, the three district supervisors said it is time for the DepEd chief to step down because she does not protect their rights as public servants.
They denounced Briones for opposing the inclusion of additional allowance for teachers in the proposed 2021 national budget, which was approved by the House of Representatives in a special session on October 16.
“On behalf of the teachers in Pangasinan, we are urging President Duterte to replace Briones and appoint a competent and dedicated Education secretary, who can ensure implementation of quality education and protect and defend our rights,” the school officials said.
In a separate interview with this writer also on Friday, two school principals from the Pangasinan 2 Schools Division Office under Superintendent Danilo Sison said, “She continues to overlook the fact that public school teachers, for example, have been spending their own money for making their classrooms appear more presentable.”
Recently, hundreds of class advisers in Pangasinan said they also used their own money for printing and reproducing modules for distribution to pupils and students under the online learning system adopted by the DepEd when the expenses should be borne by department funds.
Earlier, the leader of a Pangasinan-based watchdog has accused Briones of “lying” for saying the modules were already prepared and ready for distribution and their printing was 100-percent finished a week before the start of classes on October 5.
In still another interview with The Manila Times also on Friday, Prof. Salvador Singson-de Guzman, the president of the Citizens’ Movement Against Corruption, Crime, Illegal Drugs and Gambling Inc., asked the Education secretary to explain “why she should not be liable for grave misconduct and charged for graft and corruption” in announcing that the modules were ready.
“The statements of Briones claiming that the printing of the modules was 100-percent completed is unacceptable, unbelievable, and I believed she was not in good health when she made the announcement,” De Guzman said.
He added, “It is our right to know what happened to the funds intended for the printing of the modules because those funds are our tax money and why the teachers were made to shoulder the expenses for reproducing the modules.”
De Guzman also urged Briones to resign because she is not physically fit for the job anymore.
The modules, which were released by the DepEd central office, were criticized by parents after seeing there that an owl was described as an ostrich and that “L is for rabbit.“
The parents also discovered wrong spellings and obscene illustrations in the modules.
Five class advisers from Pangasinan 1 Schools Division Office under Superintendent Shiela Marie Primicias, who met with this writer on October 17, said they had been instructed not to use the modules anymore, citing an alleged order from DepEd Ilocos Region Regional Director Tolentino Aquino to Primicias.
Aquino also allegedly issued the order after Briones read an article published in the The Manila Times that said some teachers used their own money to pay for the printing of the modules.
Primicias, in her radio program aired over DZRD Sonshine Radyo in Dagupan City that was also televised live on the Facebook of “Leksyon Pangasinan” last October 9, admitted and confirmed the message of Aquino.
Primicias herself also admitted and announced that the DepEd has no sufficient funds for printing the modules, prompting her to tell her fellow school officials to seek financial assistance from the local government unit.
The Miscellaneous and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds of the schools that were directly released by the Department of Budget and Management to school principals were apparently not enough to shoulder the printing costs of the modules.
A school head or principal in a small elementary school with 14 teachers receives a minimum of P50.000 in monthly MOOE.
The MOOE is used for operating expenses of schools for electricity, water and salaries or allowances of security guards and school janitors.