By JEANETTE RIBAYA-CAWIDING
This is a message for peace.
With the Duterte administration’s termination of the Peace Process, the President signed EO 70 on December 4, 2018, to form the National Task Force to end Local Communist Armed Conflict. This body will implement the National Integrated Security Plan (NISP) 2019-2022 or the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WON) that aims to attain “an inclusive and sustainable peace”.
In the past few weeks, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) has been giving briefings on this in the Cordillera: first, with the Regional Development Council of NEDA-CAR last June 17; then, with the Information Officers of all regional line agencies last June 19; and, more recently with the NCIP Committee of Indigenous Peoples Concerns (CIPC) last July 2. Similar information campaign has also started in schools like the one held at SLU last July 8.
The Whole-of-Nation Approach framework posits that insurgency is the cause of poverty and “unpeace” in the country. It claims that one of the strategies of the CPP-NPA-NDF is the “infiltration” of government institutions and agencies like the NCIP, NFA, and UP. And another is the use of progressive people’s organizations as fronts, like the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).
But, during these briefings, government representatives stood their ground and questioned them, for instance, how come their Constitutionally-mandated right to unionize and to struggle for just pay and decent and sustainable jobs are now considered communist. An agency representative at the CIPC expressed disbelief that ACT, which has been fighting for salary increase and the welfare of teachers, is communist. In the same meeting, a proposed resolution condemning and disallowing the red-tagging and vilification of these agencies and the legal progressive people’s organizations, as these are rights violations, was adopted.
As a member and organizer for the ACT, we raise the same questions and condemnation. With the President’s expressed recognition of the vital role of teachers in nation-building and development, therefore, promising already for the 6th time this year, increased pay for teachers, is it wrong for ACT to persistently push him to fulfill this promise? Is it a crime to assert the correct implementation of the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), which we pushed in Congress so that teachers would receive sufficient election honorarium, and health and legal benefits last elections? Is our clamor to replace the burdensome and irrelevant evaluation system, the Results-based Performance Management System – Professional Performance Standard or Teachers (RPMS-PPST which ate up our summer vacation), with the more practical Perormance Appraisal System for Teachers (PAST), not a valid demand? Are our lobbying efforts for the amendment of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Law which resulted in the reduction of required CPD units (from 45 to 15 for 3 years) and the crediting of all training to protect us from being preyed upon by lucrative private service providers with PRC connections, an anti-government act? Is not our call for the retention of Filipino and Panitikan as mandatory subjects in the tertiary level part of our rightful duty to inculcate nationalist education among our youth?
But for these, ACT has been profiled since November last year (experienced here in Baguio by schools under the jurisdiction of Police Station 2 and in Apayao), was subject to state negative electioneering (“Huwag iboto ang ACT Partylist – Komunistang Partylist!”) and fake news that ACT Partylist was disqualified and I, as the third nominee, was tagged as a CPP-NPA-NDF member. And with these, the state has opened us up as targets of state attacks in various forms.
ACT, since 1982 nationally and since 1989 in CAR, has consistently led and won many gains for teachers’ and education welfare. But the state has also consistently turned its back on teachers and education, giving some measly economic benefits and recognizing democratic rights when already very pressured; but many times, resorting to maligning, vilifying and criminalizing dissent when it cannot respond to the teachers’ just demands.
Now, the government is rallying everyone (whole nation) against its enemy (the CPP-NPA-NDF), sowing alarm that this enemy has been so keen for having reached 50 years of revolution. But, it has also equated and lumped all struggling for food, freedom, jobs, and justice with this enemy.
And it is this poverty and injustice gripping teachers and all sectors that have bred protest and civil war. Therefore, war must be waged against poverty and injustice and not against dissent.
But this, WON stubbornly negates. For this, WON, therefore, will never WIN! # nordis.net
The author is the Regional Coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Cordillera and 3rd nominee of ACT Teachers Party-list.