Hundreds of new ARMM teachers to handle classes in June. PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 May 2014 13:49

One appointee almost got killed in a motorcycle crash while rushing to the venue of their ceremonial installation to office on Friday while another gave birth to a child even before the program could start.

Erwin Magbanua, who hails from North Upi town in Maguindanao, said the injuries he sustained in the accident were not enough to weaken and prevent him from taking his oath, along with 903 others, as duly appointed public school teachers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The event, held at the 900-seater Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex inside the 32-hectare ARMM compound in Cotabato City, was first ever in the 25-year history of the autonomous region.

Magbanua, who will teach at the Kuya Elementary School in South Upi town in Maguindanao in June, received his appointment paper during the affair, his face heavily bandaged and swollen due to abrasions.

“Matagal kong inasam-asam ito. Di ako ma-appoint noon dahil palakasan ang sistema at wala akong influential na `backer’ kaya di ako naging teacher. Ngayon heto na, dinaan sa malinis na proseso, na-appoint na rin ako sa wakas, Salamat sa Hataman administration,” an emotional Magbanua said, in between sobs.

The appointment “en masse” of new teachers for Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, whose credentials were screened extensively by a selection team led by foreign-trained industrial psychologist John Magno, came after Regional Education Secretary Jamar Kulayan and ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman delisted thousands of “ghost teachers” from the old roster of employees of the region’s education department.

Magno, who is the assistant secretary for operations of the Department of Education in ARMM, said the new appointees were made to promise to work hard for the good of the Bangsamoro communities, plagued by high illiteracy, which is partly being blamed for much of the region’s security woes.

“We now have warm-bodied, `existing body and soul,’ very qualified new teachers in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and soon the appointments of teachers in the island provinces will come out,” Kulayan told reporters that covered the oathtaking rite.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The DepEd-ARMM was touted as the region’s most corrupt department during past administrations, known for having thousands of ghost teachers, and dozens of non-existent schools that regularly received maintenance and operation grants from the agency’s regional office in Cotabato City.

Hataman and Kulayan jointly addressed the irregularities via a cleansing process that started in early 2012.

The process had resulted to the generation by the Hataman administration of close to P1 billion worth of savings from unspent salaries and operation funds the agency received from the central office of the Department of Budget and Management in the past two years.

A newly-appointed teacher from Lanao del Sur told reporters she tried to apply for a teaching position in the province during the time of the past administration, but balked when an education official asked for P200,000 in exchange for an appointment.

Teachers then also ranted noisily over delays in their salaries and non-remittance of their contributions to the Government Service Insurance System, causing the suspension of their allowable loan applications and other benefits from GSIS.

“Our teachers now have payroll-type automated bank cards, which serves as conduit for their salaries. No more “red tape,” no more hassles,” Kulayan said.

There are also stories of how past regional officials collected the pay checks, for the first five months, of newly-appointed teachers as “exchange deal” for having facilitated their entry into the DepEd-ARMM.