“Pay your debt or lose your license to teach.” This is the predicament that faces public school teachers, who are already suffering from big pay cuts due to deduction of loans, should they fail to settle their debts from Private Lending Institutions (PLIs).
Teachers from Central Luzon trooped to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on Friday to appeal the agency “not to take the side” of PLIs when it comes to settling their loans that have accumulated due to high interest rates.
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Region III accuse the PRC of “favoring” PLIs and “pressuring” public school teachers who have unpaid loans to settle their debts, otherwise, they might lose their license to teach.
ACT Region III president Romly Clemente said PRC has been summoning teachers who have availed themselves of loans from PLIs to a series of mediation. “Bakitang PRC, isa-isangpinatatawag ang mga gurong may pagkakautang sa PLIs at kunwaring namamagitan (Why is the PRC calling teachers who have loans with PLIs one by one in an apparent effort to mediate)?
Clemente claimed that when teachers get to the PRC office, they are being pressured to settle their loans with the PLIs. “Ang katotohanan kapag nasa PRC na ay nandiyan na ang panggigipit sa guro at pinapangako na magbayad ng halagang hindi na kayang bayaran (The truth is when teachers get to PRC, they are pressured and forced to pay amounts that they cannot afford).”
Clemente alleged that when teachers attend the mediation in PRC, they are being forced to settle their unpaid loans with interests by asking them to sign documents and opening of checking accounts so they can issue blank checks.
Many teachers are even asked to surrender their Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards along with the personal identification numbers (PIN). “Ito ba ang sinasabing walang pagkiling ang PRC sa mga PLIs? (Is this what PRC means when they say they are not impartial when it comes to PLIs)? he said.
No PRC official could be reached immediately for comment.
Clemente said that many teachers are also being “threatened” by the PLIs – with the filing of cases before the PRC – that their licenses will be held or suspended which will force them to stop teaching. “Isang malinaw na panggigipit at paggamit at malinaw na paunti-unting pagkitil sa buhay ng mga guro at mga umaasa sa kanila (Clearly, they are pressuring the teachers and forcing them to give up their source of livelihood).”
Public school teachers claim that among the reasons many of them tend to over-borrow money from PLIs is due to low salary. Thus, they have reiterated their call for the Department of Education (DepEd) to support their call for wage hike that will increase the entry level salary of public school teachers to P25,000 and P16,000 for non-teaching personnel.