ISABELA CITY, Basilan The back-pay amounting to a total of P106 million was finally released starting Monday to some 1,246 teachers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City.
Information chief Ali G. Macabalang said the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officialdom held another of its initiative in paying arrears in incomes of teachers for the 11 schools divisions in the region, representing wages and benefits accumulated since 2006.
On Mondays kick-off, lawyers Naguib Sinarimbo and Baratucal Caudang, regional executive secretary and ARMM education secretary respectively, personally handed checks to individual payee-teachers from the two school divisions of Maguindanao at the ARMM Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center (SKCC).
The huge SKCC building was chosen as a venue by Acting ARMM Gov. Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong to ensure that concerned teachers are assembled in one place to receive personally their back salaries and benefits in checks, Caudang said.
A 61-year old Teacher 1, Ali Sabpel of Balungis Elementary School in Pagalungan town was the first called among the 279 teachers from Maguindanao to receive his 11 checks covering his back-salaries from June to December 2006 and January to February 2007 including bonuses amounting to a total of P92,000.
Emerging from the venue in obvious high spirit, Sabpel confided to reporters his agony and that those of his peers in teaching without salaries for several months, even as he expressed deep gratitude to the Adiong administration for taking the cudgel for us.
Candidly, I did not expect I could get my back-pays from 2006 to 2007, Sabpel said, because he had received bigger arrears payment in checks for his incomes from 2007 to 2011 at the third episode of the Adiong administrations payment process last April.
Upon the takeover of Caudang of the ARMMs Education Department 2010, he said Adiong ordered him to ensure that all salary obligations and insurance remittances of teachers unpaid by past regional administrations must be settled within his term of office.
Thus, Caudang sourced out funds and conducted the first two legs of paying teachers arrears in salaries and benefits in September and December 2010, cashing out more than P300-million in two tranches.
Finance officials of the Office of the Regional Governor said that because of the far distance of Tawi-Tawi, they allowed on Monday a liaison officer from the island provinces school division to receive the checks for 176 claimant-teachers.
On Tuesday, checks distribution process served some 383 claimant-teachers from the four schools divisions in Lanao del Sur and 68 others from Marawi City schools division, one of them received 104 checks amounting to P1.07-million constituting her back salaries and bonuses from April 2008 up to Sept. 2011, sources from the ORG finance division said.
They said 119 teacher-claimants from the two schools divisions in Sulu and 14 from Basilan lone school division were set to receive their own back salaries and benefits last Wednesday in a fashion estimated to have fully settled the DepEd-ARMMs unpaid obligations to some of the regions almost 21,000 teachers.
In a statement, Adiong said the settlement of the unpaid salaries and benefits of some 4,000 public schools teachers accumulated under past ARMM administration would form part of the highlights of his leadership.
The elective term of Adiong alongside 25 other elected ARMM officials lapsed on September 30 but all of them are serving their offices on holdover capacity as mandated by a Supreme Court temporary restraining order issued on Sept. 13 halting the implementation of RA 10153.
RA 10153 synchronized the Aug. 8, 2011 elections with the 2013 midterm elections and allowed the President to appoint officers-in-charge in the region for 21 months. It is, however, facing at least seven petitions questioning its constitutionality before the High Tribunal.