“The PNP’s concerted national scheme to single out ACT and extract a list of all its members from principals and other school officials is a clear violation of the constitutional right to self-organization, freedom of expression and assembly, and right to privacy.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is considering filing charges against the Philippine National Police (PNP) for profiling its members.
In a press conference at the House of Representatives, Jan. 8, ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio said the profiling of ACT members is a clear violation of their right to privacy. He said there is no truth behind PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde’s allegation that ACT is a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). “This is a recycled allegation. This is not the first time that this allegation was levelled at ACT. These are all lies,” said Tinio.
Tinio reiterated that ACT as a legal organization conducts activities that are very well known to the public as well as its stand on national issues and there is no basis for the PNP to conduct profiling of ACT members.
ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said the “PNP’s concerted national scheme to single out ACT and extract a list of all its members from principals and other school officials is a clear violation of the constitutional right to self-organization, freedom of expression and assembly, and right to privacy.”
He added that the surveillance also violates the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, and all the related laws, orders, and issuances, which protect their right to self-organization and trade union rights in both public and private schools.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) also said in a statement that they would seek legal remedies in court to halt the profiling of teachers.
“Unless the police immediately withdraw such illegal, unconstitutional and invasive intelligence directive, all those who appear to be complicit will be held legally accountable,” the NUPL’s statement read.
The intelligence operation against members of ACT was exposed over the weekend. The PNP Chief Intelligence Section issued a memorandum ordering the police to conduct an “inventory of all public and private school teachers who are members of or aligned with ACT.” The memorandum cited the 2019 mid-term election and other PNP memoranda as basis for the operation.
ACT said that policemen went to public schools to get the names of the teachers, particularly members of the said group.
The group were able to get a copy of the memorandum in Muntinlupa, Manila and Zambales. In Rizal, Police Superintendent Glenn C. Magsino, acting chief of police of Rizal Police Provincial Office, requested in writing Angono National High School for the names of teachers who are members of ACT. The group also received reports from their members in Las Piñas, Bulacan, Mindoro, Sorsogon, Agusan Del Sur among others.
According to news reports, Albalyalde sacked the intelligence officers who have leaked the operation but did not cease the operation.
Amid the outrage of different groups supporting ACT, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Director Guillermo Eleazar defended the operation saying that there is no intention of violating any rights of ACT members.
Union work is not a crime
Tinio said the surveillance against the teachers should stop and the police should instead do their job of going after the criminals.
“What is wrong with calling for salary hike, increase in the budget of education sector or protest against excessive tax? What is criminal about that? Why the police is wasting resources on our teachers?” Tinio said.
ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro meanwhile said public school teachers suffer from low wages amid numerous tasks in schools and now they are being treated as enemies.
In her Facebook post, Castro pointed out the danger of surveillance against them. She said that suspected drug addicts who were also profiled in the barangays before they were summarily killed.
ACT, which was established more than 30 years ago, has gained victories, big and small. One of its victories was the accreditation of ACT union which according to Tinio, now has 200,000 union members. It is the Sole and Exclusive Negotiating Agent (SENA) for public school teachers in regions 5, 7, 11 and in NCR.
Basilio said that teachers are not afraid to continue with their struggle amid the increasing harassment of the government. He said, ACT has been subjected to attacks in the previous years and in its almost 40 years of existence, ACT remained on the side of the teachers as well as the Filipino people.
“The founding of ACT in 1982 is in itself a product of the teachers’ struggle amidst and against the Marcos dictatorship. We shall carry on fighting against anti-teacher and anti-people policies. We shall never tire of fighting for our rights, for our profession, and for decent working conditions,” Basilio said.