“Teachers have been clamoring for the grant and release of benefits and salary increases for months, but all we get is a slow and tight-lipped response in return. But when it comes to red-tagging, the DepEd managed to issue a memo?”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) assailed the Department of Education for allowing the government’s counter-insurgency body to red-tag their members.
Members of the ACT held a picket protest in front of the Department of Education – National Capital Region’s office, following a “sponsored orientation” for Pasig City public school teachers organized by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC).
This was apparently allowed by the DepEd– NCR, per its memorandum dated Jan. 31, saying that it “interposes no objection” to the request of the government counterinsurgency body’s request to hold an “Orientation for Parents, Teachers and Principals on the Youths and Students Recruitment by the CPP-NDF-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army].”
The DepEd-NCR’s office memorandum also enjoins “all remaining Divisions to accommodate the request of the said agency for security purposes.”
During the said online briefing, ACT-NCR said their group was tagged as one of the front organizations of the CPP.
The teachers’ group said the government agency also used their logo and the photos of their members in the said presentation.
“Teachers have been clamoring for the grant and release of benefits and salary increases for months, but all we get is a slow and tight-lipped response in return. But when it comes to red-tagging, the DepEd managed to issue a memo?” said Vladimir Quetua, ACT NCR Union President.
In its presentation, the NTF-ELCAC showed a video of Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the CPP and currently chief political consultant of the NDFP in its peace negotiations with the Philippine government, allegedly citing “legal democratic forces in the country.”
The term “legal democratic forces,” however, is a loose term and does not automatically equate to being a “front organization,” as claimed by the NTF-ELCAC.
Queta said the red-tagging briefing only puts teachers in a “vulnerable position,” especially now that they are actively asserting their right to unionize and to claim their due benefits.
Local and international human rights organizations have long recognized the dangers of red-tagging, as it leads to graver rights abuses such as filing of trumped up cases, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killings.
“What DepEd needs to do is to listen to our teachers’ woes, and not be an instrument of red-tagging and harassment. They are there to protect teachers’ welfare, not to threaten and harass our teachers,” said Quetua.
ACT NCR is the official public school teachers union in the National Capital Region and is currently implementing the second collective negotiations agreement with the education department’s National Capital Region division.