“WE need to talk more about the plight of our public school teachers and address their concerns especially in the field of medical benefits. Free regular checkups and subsidized health insurance, among others, should be part of a comprehensive package aimed at ensuring our teachers are fit and healthy in performing their important functions.”
Former MMDA Chair and administration Senate bet Francis Tolentino said that if given the chance to serve as a legislator, one of his urgent priorities would be to “improve and escalate the benefits of teachers way more than what they are receiving right now.”
Tolentino noted that the Republic Act 4670, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, is a 53-year old law and numerous proposals have been made to amend and improve the 1966 measure and none have focused on medical benefits.
“All previous efforts at amending the Magna Carta have focused on increasing wages, granting security of tenure or rationalizing the teaching load which are all very commendable. However, we also need to go back to the basic issue of our teachers’ health and well-being.”
“We worry when students are sick and cannot go to school. In the same vein, we should be equally concerned when heavy work loads take a toll on our teachers’ health.”
Tolentino also proposed the creation of a specialized national hospital or medical center for teachers.
The former Presidential Political Adviser observed that increasing teachers’ benefits would encourage more young people to enter the teaching profession and fill the chronic shortage of public school teachers.
Statistics from the United Nations Human Development Report reveal, for instance, that the Philippines lags behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of primary school teacher to student ratio at 1:31, which is far from the 1:11 in Malaysia, 1:15 in Thailand, 1:17 in Indonesia, 1:19 in Vietnam, and even 1:28 in Myanmar.
“Bottomline is, the law needs updating. Legally-mandated medical benefits for our often-neglected public school teachers is long overdue,” the Senate hopeful stressed.