By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Kabataan Partylist in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) denounced the “Oplan Tokhang” style order of the Philippine National Police to make a profile of ACT members in Manila and Zambales province.
“Paglabag ito sa right to organize ng mga teachers. Malinaw na talagang crackdown ito against ACT (This violates the teachers’ right to organize. Clearly, this is a crackdown against ACT),” said Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, the alliance’s coordinator in CAR and third nominee of ACT Teachers Partylist.
She believed the police’s motive is to suppress the growing ranks of progressive and nationalist teachers who are standing up against government neglect in schools and atrocities against the people.
“Simula pa noon, naninindigan at ipinaglalaban na nito ang karapatan ng mga guro, edukasyon at sambayanan,” Ribaya-Cawiding explained.
The ACT nominee said they have yet to conduct an inquiry with their officers and members in CAR if a similar order exists.
“Even in the absence of such instruction, this is still a cause for concern among teachers because it violates our right to privacy, and the Magna Carta for Teachers and related issuances,” she explained, adding “if the police can do it in Manila and Zambales, what will stop them from doing it here in Baguio and Cordillera provinces?”
Kabataan Partylist (KPL) scored the order and aired concern, warning of possible attacks against teachers and even students.
Christian Dave Ruz, KPL spokes said schools in the region may experience the same brutality happening in indigenous peoples’ (IP) communities in Mindanao if the directive is copied in CAR.
He pointed out that IP villages in the Cordillera are already complaining about rights violations, with incidents of military encampments in schools in Abra, Kalinga and Mountain Province.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines-Baguio Benguet have rallied behind the progressive educators.
NUSP sees the memorandum along other forms of crackdown on activists as “systematic attacks” to build the foundation for Duterte’s dictatorial rule.
The Manila Police District (MPD), in a memorandum dated December 26, 2018, commanded the “conduct of inventory of all public and private school teachers who are aligned with ACT.” Police Chief Inspector Rexson Layug, Chief of the Intelligence Branch signed the document.
Cited reference for the order are a memo from the head of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID/R2) dated December 20 with the same purpose and the 2019 mid-term elections.
Assistant schools division superintendent Sheryll Gayola, officer-in-charge of the Manila City Division sent the order to the heads of both public and private elementary and secondary schools.
The Zambales Police Provincial Office (PPO) also issued a similar document, dated December 27, signed by its chief of intelligence PCI Pancho Dasca Doble. Besides the reference to the 2019 elections, the official also cited memos from the Director of Intelligence (TDI) dated December 10 and RID Police Regional Office 3 dated December 27 for the order.
The document also directed to put the report on a matrix, in Excel format, showing the complete name, the school and address on January 5 and January 7 for the officers covered by the MPD and Zambales PPO orders respectively.
Illegal and unconstitutional
ACT National condemned the PNP for “making the rounds in schools and offices of the Department of Education (DepEd) to press education officials” to comply, calling it “illegal and unconstitutional.”
The group said they received similar reports from members in Malabon, Las Pinas, Bulacan, Rizal, Mindoro, Sorsogon, Agusan Del Sur, among others.
Government offices like the Civil Service Commission, Department of Education, and Department of Labor and Employment recognized ACT and its affiliate organizations as legitimate teachers’ organization.
Unions under the alliance hold the Sole and Exclusive Negotiating Agent (SENA) for public schoolteachers in regions V, VII, and XI and in NCR with registered unions in other regions, including CAR and Region 1.
“The PNP has no business meddling in the affairs of teachers’ organizations. Its duty is to serve and protect the people, not to harass and intimidate activists. Their dastardly act of profiling ACT members is maliciously casting unnecessary doubt on the legitimacy of ACT as an organization,” said the statement.
They called on DepEd officials to “take a stand against this repressive scheme” and resist the PNP’s effort to use the department to violate teachers’ rights.
ACT also chided the PNP for wasting time maligning their ranks and instead “focus on apprehending big drug lords, plunderers and human rights violators.”
The teachers believed the recent order is related to the Executive Order 70 signed by the president on December 4 creating a task force to end the communist insurgency.
ACT and other groups criticized the order for transforming the entire bureaucracy into a machinery to suppress all forms of opposition to Duterte’s iron-fist governance. # nordis.net