ZAMBOANGA CITY – The regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) cleared once again the issues hounding the unpaid salaries of teachers from the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the city of Lamitan.

ARMM officials led by Attorney-General Atty. Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and Department of Education (DepEd-ARMM) secretary Udtog Kawit speak to some 300 crowd here on Saturday, December 8.

Governor Ampatuan before he left for Jeddah last Friday instructed Sayadi, Kawit and his Chief of Staff, Ulama Acad to “once and for all resolve the problems of the teachers in the region.”

In the forum, Kawit said, “We have been solving your (teacher’s) problem since we assumed office in 2005; it is about time to clear up everything.”

The teachers from the three provinces and one city had aired appeal on their problems for reconsideration during the activity. The problems on unpaid and delayed salaries of teachers, appointments for provisionary teachers and the issue on the Special Permit to Teach (SPT) are among the issues raised.

Local government officials led by Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, Tawi-Tawi Acting Governor Ruby Sahali-Tan, mayors, school heads and teachers from the three-island municipalities, attended the forum.

Many of the provisional teachers have been teaching and holding classes but their salaries have not been released because they have no valid appointments.

Sayadi and Kawit reiterate the stand of the regional government that even if Governor Ampatuan truly wants to pay their salaries, the Governor cannot do so because the law does not allow payment of salary to anyone without valid appointment even if they (provisionary teachers) have rendered service.

Civil Service Commission Field Office in the ARMM Director II Dominador Gonzales Jr. confirmed the regional governments’ position on the issue.

According to Gonzales, “if the appointment is not valid, whoever appointed him or her will have to pay the appointee’s salary, not the government.”

Sayadi, the newly-named regional governor’s spokesperson said the teachers who attended the dialogue made a joint statement stating that “the issues and concerns of the DepEd-ARMM is a carry over of the previous ARMM administration and not the making of Regional Governor Ampatuan.”

The statement further states, “…that upon assumption of Ampatuan in 2005, he sourced out funds for the payment of the unpaid salaries of teachers in the month of September 2005 which was not paid by the previous administration.”

“It was only during the leadership of Governor Ampatuan that the GSIS remittances are religiously paid, due to the efforts made by Governor Ampatuan,” the statement said.

The signatories of the statement declared their united stand to cooperate and support the leadership of Governor Ampatuan in his “sincere intention to achieve the reforms he has initiated to the DepEd-ARMM.” (bpi-armm)

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
December 11, 2007