Ifugao BM Addug bats for ALS mentors’ hazard pay benefit

LAGAWE, IFUGAO – Ifugao Board Member Orlando Addug pushed recently the passage of a measure outlining the provision of a hazard-pay for Alternative Learning System (ALS) teachers in the province.
He said safeguarding the life of the ALS teacher each second of the day go a long way in securing his or her future.
“And, of course, that includes one’s family,” he said.
Board Member Addug is expected to file an ordinance at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan within the month of February. He is eyeing that the ALS teacher be able to avail of Php2,000 monthly or Php24,000 hazard-pay annually.
Addug is the chairman of the committee on public works and infrastructure as well as the committee on indigenous people’s affairs and cultural heritage.
The ALS has proven to be a viable instrument for addressing the needs of out-of-school youths (OSYs) in Ifugao for so many years.
This phenomenon has emerged from the success of a number of programs, projects and activities primarily initiated by the Department of Education (DepEd) as well as other institutions in the public and private sectors. Nonetheless, ALS teachers have been perpetually burdened by seemingly unforgiving and harsh landscapes while discharging their duties to the young. For one, they have to travel all the way to remote villages of the province. Road conditions are unthinkable, at best. In many instances, there are rivers or creeks to cross and ravines to pass by.
Accidents these days are quite unavoidable and the devoted and overworked ALS teacher is surely looking for that safety net at all times.
Many have raised concerns on the safety of ALS teachers, most especially during the rainy season.
“The well-being of the ALS teachers is our topmost priority,” Addug said.
“It is our duty to promote the welfare of ALS teachers throughout the province, thus, it is immensely beneficial to the interest of the education sector, and every member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has an important duty to shield the ALS teacher from any danger at work so that the goal of educating the out-of-school youths is achieved,” he added.
The initiative of Board Member Addug should be supported because it is a powerful measure of improving the living conditions of the ALS workforce, most especially in far-flung barangays.
The provincial government needs to do more to ensure that ALS teachers are genuinely and collectively empowered and live to be the best in the eyes of all.
Verily, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members are the ALS teachers’ brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and they are obligated to act accordingly. The fact that tens of ALS teachers are presently not provided with hazard-pay allowances is clearly an issue to be considered as an assault on the common good, and that issue is at the center of the ongoing public policy debate about educational reform.
Others should make efforts to really help them, as this brings out the truth because doing so is the most effective of pursuing the common objective of addressing the needs of cash-strapped ALS teachers.
All told, ALS teachers have to travel a lengthy distance just to teach OSYs who also need to rise from poverty-stricken state of living, from hand-to-mouth existence to an honored position in Philippine society.
The push for the provision the hazard-pay allowance for ALS, come at a crucial time, just more than a month after prices of goods and services went up significantly in Ifugao. Making both ends meet in difficult economic times has become a life-and-death struggle for many, including the ALS teachers. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report on January 6, 2020, upscale inflation rate last year took its toll on poor households, as price increases were seen for eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, rice, meat and miscellaneous foodstuff.
It also comes at the heels of disheartening news that dropping out in both public and private schools in Ifugao has remained on a high rate.
Upon forwarding the proposed ordinance to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the attention then shifts to the conduct of a public consultation. Public hearings are expected to be held at major towns in the two geographical districts of Ifugao.
For instance, if and when a public consultation is onducted in the second district of Ifugao, Alfonso Lista and Mayoyao are ideal venues of the said activity. Apart from the fact that Alfonso Lista ALS mentors are among the most hardworking and dedicated individuals in this field, the town has adequate sites to host it. It looks like that top municipal government officials are likely to accept the challenge to host the historic public consultation.
The proponent will likely interact with stakeholders, including key figures in the education sector as well as barangay government officials since ALS teachers are imparting knowledge and guiding these youngsters, who arel argely their constituents.
Along the course of enacting this measure, Addug shall report to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan the results of the public hearings.
He also said that Ifugao should ideally nurture an active and responsive ALS program, as a strong foundation for education of the OSYs, and ensuring a vibrant economy.
The ALS program encourages OSYs to resume their studies, acquire skills for gainful employment or become entrepreneurs. A good number of OSYs are enrolled in programs offered by the DepEd, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education amd Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
At present, it is heartening to find more pro-educator legislators like Board Member Addug in this part of the country.
Addug is a veritable Ifugao treasure. He improved the plight of the poor even before entering the world of politics.
Even as a councilor in Banaue, Addug banked on his wisdom, passion and strength to help the men and women behind the development of public schools in his town generally popular for its panoramic rice terraces.
He has been vocal about the need to look into the plight of the overworked but underpaid ALS teachers.
How do you intend to upgrade the living standards of the ALS teachers?
Lately, there has been confusion over the issue of the multi-grade allowance given by the DepEd. The multi-grade allowance and hazard-pay allowance are two different items. Sadly, ALS teachers are still vying for hazard-pay allowance some quarters can’t fully grasp. This scribe has to check and recheck available information at the Division Schools office in Lagawe. What’s worse is that eight ALS teachers in Alfonso Lista interviewed, who said they are not receiving hazard-pay allowances, are likely to be liars or telling tell-tale stories. Surely, they aren’t.
Moneyed Ifugao public servants, contractors, businessmen and professionals are happy in their offices, but the ALS teachers in distant and underserved barangays are grumbling, repeatedly emphasizing that expenses for a tricycle ride and photocopying of papers are coming from their own pockets.
The ALS teacher is an active partner of the government in the task of nation-building. Many have acknowledged with deep gratitude for their role as “second parents” of the OSYs.
ALS is providing education to everyone, anyone, anywhere and everywhere in Ifugao and elsewhere, to all Filipinos, especially those who have no access to it.
ALS teachers come and go. But not treacherous roads and lung-busting hike to a far-flung barangay for an ALS class in this upland Cordillera province.
The provincial government, therefore, must aim for nothing less than the provision of hazard-pay allowances for ALS teachers.
Provision of hazard-pay allowance to the ALS teachers is part and parcel of a coherent policy to protect and promote their welfare. With this development, now the Ifugao ALS teachers are in the pathway to better times. **By Anthony A. Araos

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