Posts

On World Teachers’ Day, mentors reject 2k salary increase proposal

Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) reject a proposal in Congress to increase their monthly salaries by P2,000, saying the amount is not enough and is “insulting.”

As ACT members hold simultaneous concerted mass actions Friday across the country’s 13 regions on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, the teachers reiterated their demand for a P30,000 minimum monthly salary.

“We reject the P2,000 increase proposed in Congress as it insults our dignity as teachers,” ACT Teachers Union Region III president Romly Clemente said in a statement.

“We deserve a substantial salary increase for us to live decently and with dignity and self-respect,” she added.

In Central Luzon, ACT Teachers Union members are gathering in four activity centers in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac to press their demand for salary increases.

ACT members in Metro Manila will also conduct a similar activity in Mendiola at three o’clock this afternoon.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, the legislator seen closest to President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier filed a bill proposing a P2,000 salary increase for public school teachers.

In his 4th State of the Nation Address last July, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law that will raise the pay of government workers, including public school teachers. 

“To the teachers who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, what you have been asking for is included here. It may not be so substantial but it will tide you over,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Meanwhile, several other senators reportedly filed bills seeking to substantially raise the salaries of public school teachers.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 19 seeking teachers’ entry-level salaries to not less than P30,000 a month from the current P20,754.

“We should provide teachers with the right incentives to encourage them to remain in the noblest profession of educating and molding our youth to become productive citizens of this country,” Drilon explained.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian for his part filed a bill raising the salary grade  (SG) of public school teachers with the rank of Teacher I, II and III to SG 13, 14, and 15 from their current SG 11, 12, and 13, respectively.

Sen. Sonny Angara meanwhile is seeking to raise the salary grade of public school teachers to SG 19 at the minimum, which has an equivalent pay of P45,269 to P50,702.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Francis Pangilinan for their part proposed to increase the salary of public school teachers by P10,000, which will be implemented in three tranches.

Sen. Nancy Binay also filed a bill seeking to raise the salary of entry-level teachers to P28,000 and non-teaching personnel to P18,000.

Sen. Pia Cayetano also filed a bill seeking a pay hike for teachers.

ACT is commemorating World Teachers Day today, October 4, as its actual date, October 5, falls on a Saturday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Injustices breed activism, teachers tell Bato and Albayalde

The Filipino people’s intensifying poverty and other social injustices drive students to activism, a teachers group said in response to accusations they encourage their students to join rallies.

Replying to accusations by Senator Bato dela Rosa and police chief Oscar Albayalde that teachers encourage “anti-government” sentiments among students and the youth, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said it is not the teachers’ fault but poverty, corruption and human rights violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

The two officials separately blamed the teachers following a Senate hearing where dela Rosa presented parents who complained that their children have left home and joined activist organizations.

Dela Rosa and Albayalde said teachers should “just do their jobs and not make students turn against the government.”

Dela Rosa went as far as ask that teachers who encourage students to join rallies must be fired.

“They should be removed. Parents enter [sic] their students there [in schools] to become professionals, not to fight the government,” Dela Rosa said.

Albalyalde, for his part accused the teachers of brainwashing their students.

“What they should stop [doing] is brainwash[ing] the students. You are a teacher, you act like a teacher,” Albayalde said.

Their statement did not sit well with the teachers.

What the teachers are doing

 “The two officials are not in the position to lecture us on our jobs. Their stances show that they have very little appreciation of the objectives of education,” ACT national chairperson Joselyn Martinez retorted in a statement Friday, August 16.

Martinez  said teachers are teaching their students patriotism, love of humanity, human rights, heroism, history, rights and duties of citizens, ethical and spiritual values, moral character and personal discipline, critical and creative thinking, scientific and technological knowledge and vocational efficiency as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.

“It is not the teachers’ fault if the government leadership acts in contrast to the values upheld by education. They should not blame us if the youth calls out the government for the ills that they see in society. We are only doing our job,” she explained.

Martinez said that the government should not find fault in teachers encouraging students to attend rallies as these are “real-life events that hold many learnings for the students.”

“It exposes our students to people from different walks of life who have grievances that are worth hearing. It helps broaden the youth’s view of our society and offers education that cannot be learned inside the classroom and from textbooks,” Martinez said.

It is the two officials who should show respect instead of preventing the youth from exercising their rights, the teacher said.

Part of democracy

Martinez hit dela Rosa and Albayalde for “demonizing activism and rallies which are basic constitutional rights of the people, including students and teachers.”

“In the guise of attempting to curb armed rebellion, dela Rosa and Albayalde are in effect discrediting the fundamental rights of the people to free expression, self-organization and to protest. It is them who are not doing their jobs as being government officials, their constitutional duty is to respect and uphold such rights,” Martinez said.

“Rallying is not a crime. It appears that dela Rosa’s and Albayalde’s rants all boil down to this administration’s intolerance of dissent. They should stop in their desperate bid to silence critics. We’re in a democracy after all,” Martinez said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan bloc opens 18th Congress with 67 bills, resos

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives (HOR) got off to its usual running start and filed 67 bills and resolutions on the opening day of the 18th Congress Monday.

While their colleagues, including other party list representatives, are busy with infighting for the speakership of the HOR, the Leftist lawmakers submitted both new and their old legislative measures and made sure they are among the first to file them.

Makabayan legislative staffmembers were among the first to line up at the HORS’s Bills and Index Service office very early yesterday morning to increase their chance of an early first reading of their measures and referral by the Speaker to their appropriate committees.

Bayan Muna filed 30 bills and resolutions ranging from agrarian refom, human rights, social pension, lowering of prices of basic commodities, wage increases, social services to political reforms.

ACT Teachers Party filed 17 bills and resolutions ranging from salary increases, social services, government services reforms to freedom of information.

Kabataan Party for its part filed 10 bills, mostly on youth and student rights.

Gabriela Women’s Party for its part filed 10 bills and resolutions that the group said seek to uplift women from economic woes and abuse.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said their party prioritizes the repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law due to its disastrous impact on farmers and poor households, as well as measures that seek to end violence against women and children.

“Rice tariffication law sets forth the sharp drop in the farmgate prices of palay which threatens the livelihood of our farmers, as well as the phaseout of the cheaper NFA rice which poor Filipino families rely on. That’s why we want to immediately repeal the law to provide relief to millions of Filipino families,” she said.

“As an alternative, we have filed the Rice Industry Development Act previously filed by Anakpawis Partylist to ensure sufficient support for Filipino farmers and to mandate the identification of rice zones across the country to boost local rice production,” she added.

ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro for her part revealed that their 17 bills are bannered by their teachers salary increase bill she said is long overdue.

“We strongly urge the incoming House Leadership to immediately hear and pass the bill increasing the salaries of teachers and other government employees. Similarly, we call on our fellow legislators in both houses of Congress to champion this cause,” Castro said.

This morning, Bayan Muna filed its 31st measure, a resolution calling for an investigation on the violations of labor rights by detergent manufacturer Peerless Products Manufacturing Corporation, following the series of bloody attacks company guards inflicted on its striking workers.

List of bills

Bayan Muna:

1. Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill
2. Human Rights Defenders Bill
3. 2nd Tranche of SSS pension increase
4. Increasing Social Pension
5. Genuine Partylist Group and Nominee Act
6. Repeal TRAIN Law
7. Renationalization of Petron
8. Investigation of the Recto Bank Incident
9. Unbundling of Oil Prices
10. ₱750 National Minimum Wage
11. ₱16,000 Minimum Wage for Government Employees
12. Anti-Privatization of Health Services
13. Free Hemodialysis
14. Anti-Political Dynasty
15. Investigation on Water Privatization
16. Investigation on the Killings in Bicol
17. Investigation on Electoral-Related Harassments
18. Security of Tenure and Substitute Civil Service Eligibility
19. No VAT in Electricity
20. No Vat in Systems Loss
21. People’s Mining Bill
22. Genuine Small Coco Farmer’s Fund
23. Investigation on impacts of agribusiness to agrarian reform beneficiaries
24. No VAT in Water
25. Manila Bay as Reclamation-Free Zone
26. No Mining Zones
27. SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) Bill
28. Investigation on HRVs related to Memo 32 
29. Investigation on Kaliwa Dam Project
30. Moratorium on Coal-Fired Power Plants

ACT Teachers Party-List:

  1. HB 219 – salary increase for public school teachers and other government employees
  2. HB 220 – The Teacher Protection Act of 2019
  3. HB 221 – lowering the optional retirement age of government employees
  4. HB 222 – The Teaching Supplies Allowance Act of 2019
  5. HB 223 – mandatori na mga yunit ng Filipino at Panitikan sa kolehiyo
  6. HB 224 – Act Mandating Free Health Services for the People
  7. HB 225 – exempting from taxation all amounts granted to persons rendering election service for national and local elections
  8. HB 226 – The Freedom of Information Act
  9. HB 227 – The Public School Class Size Law
  10. HB 228 – The Revised GSIS Act of 2019
  11. HB 508 – shorter probationary period of teaching and non-teaching personnel in private schools
  12. HB 509 – guidance counselors in public schools
  13. HB 510 – repealing the anti-professional CPD Act of 2016
  14. HB 511 – The COMELEC Reorganization Act
  15. HB 512 – expanded paternity leave
  16. HB 513 – National Education Support Personnel Day
  17. HR 20 – inquiry in aid of legislation into the status of implementation of the K to 12 Program

Kabataan Party:

  1. Students Rights
  2. Campus Press Freedom
  3. University Services
  4. Human Rights Education
  5. Anti-No Permit No Exam
  6. FQS Day and FQS@50
  7. National Youth Day
  8. Mandatory Bonifacio Subject
  9. National Filipino Youth Museum
  10. Philippine Cinema Appreciation

Gabriela Women’s Party:

  1. Repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law
  2. Rice Industry Development
  3. Magna Carta for Daycare Workers
  4. Amendments to the Solo Parents Welfare Act
  5. Repeal of VAT on oil and other products
  6. Resolution seeking to review the concession agreement of the MWSS
  7. Amendments to the Anti-Rape Law 
  8. Electronic Violence Against Women and Children (EVAWC) 
  9. Repeal of the Human Security Act (HSA)
  10. Divorce bill

The progressive parties said the 67 bills are just their initial submissions. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan bloc set to win 6 seats

The Makabayan bloc may still get as many as six seats in the House of Representatives as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) is set to proclaim the winners of the party list race tonight.

Despite relentless harassment and vilification by the military and police throughout the campaign period up to election day last May 13, the progressive parties amassed a total of 2,236,155 votes that may give the bloc up to six seats in the 18th Congress, just one less than its current number of representatives.

Bayan Muna is set to have three seats after garnering 1,117,403 votes representing 4.01% of all party list votes cast.  

It placed second behind high-spending ACT-CIS Party, the only other party to win three seats.

Gabriela Women’s Party placed 12th in the race, garnering 449,440 votes representing 1.61% of all party list votes cast and winning one seat.

ACT Teachers Party came close behind at 15th place, with 395,327 votes representing 1.42% of all party list votes cast and winning one seat.

Gabriela Womens’ and ACT Teachers’ each have two sitting representatives in the current 17th Congress.

Both groups are the only parties in their respective sectors elected to any legislature in the entire world.

At 51st place and the last group to win a seat is Kabataan Party, garnering 196,385 votes representing 0.70% of all party list votes cast.

Anakpawis, however, failed to win a seat, placing at 62nd place with 146,511 votes representing 0.53% of all party list votes cast.

The NBOC is set to proclaim all 51 winning parties at seven o’clock tonight at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Gabriela Womens’ Party has two seats, ACT Teachers Party has two more while Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Anakpawis have one each in the current 17th Congress.

The bloc lost one seat in May 13’s elections.

Relentless attacks

Earlier, the Makabayan Bloc complained of threats and harassments of its campaigners, members and supporters by the military and police.

A massive “zero vote” was also launched in Mindanao prior to the elections while Davao City mayor Sara Duterte openly called on her constituents not to vote for Makabayan parties.

Makabayan members also suffered two massacres in Negros Island and arrests of supporters in Bulacan and Bohol whiles its supporters were prevented from voting in several regions across the country.

On election day last May 13, Philippine National Police officers distributed newsletters tagging Makabayan parties as communist fronts.

 “Despite many reports of fraud, the Rodrigo Duterte regime cannot defeat the people’s will,” Bayan Muna second nominee Ferdinand Gaite earlier told Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

ACT Rep. France Castro wins Norwegian prize for work on trade union rights

By Macel Ingles

NORWAY–The Arthur Svensson Prize for 2019 goes to Filipina teacher leader and ACT Teacher’s Party Representative France Castro for her many years of labor organizing and struggle for academic rights in the Philippines.

Castro won the award for her many years of struggle to organize teachers and fighting for basic workers rights in the Philippines, wrote the Svensson Foundation in a press statement.

Castro is invited to Oslo to receive the prize at Rockefeller on June 12.

The award goes with a cash prize worth half a million kroners or about three million pesos.

One of 10 worst countries

The Philippines, according to The International Trade Union Federation, is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for workers and union stewards.

According to the ITUC, the country does not respect basic labor rights such as the right to organize and collective bargaining, and child labor rights as well as against discrimination and forced labor.

The group also noted the prevalence of extreme state violence and oppression of civil rights.

Workers and union activists experience threats and persecution and have to fight for basic rights in order to organize and against persecution from the government and employers, the group noted.

Attack on trade unionists

In a press statement the Svensson Foundation said, “Despite threats and persecution, there are brave people who fight for trade union rights. The regime has attacked trade union activists among teachers and journalists. Some have been killed and many had been imprisoned. Death threats are not unusual. Police officers had also launched an organized campaign that publicly vilified unionized teachers.”

The group added Castro works for democracy and human rights and has worked as a teacher and took initiatives to start a union in Quezon City.

After a few years, she became the secretary general for the Alliance for Concerned Teachers (ACT) and organized the teachers under a common union, it added.

The first CBA

ACT under Castro´s leadership grew in a very short time to become one of the country´s biggest unions in the Philippines.

The alliance signed its first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in 2016 for teachers in Philippine public schools, an agreement that recognizes the right to strike.

She has also been elected to the Philippine Congress where she has, among others, worked for the expansion of maternity leave to 105 days.

“As a representative of teachers, she has fought against neo-liberal reforms in the education sector and better work environment for teachers. She has also engaged in the fight against lowering age of criminal responsibility for children, and the abolition of obligatory military training in schools and against the killing of thousands of youths under Duterte´s anti-drug
war,” the foundation noted.

In Congress

It noted that Castro, in connection with her and her union´s advocacy for indigenous peoples rights to education, has been arrested by the paramilitary and arrested in November 2018 during a solidarity visit of the indigenous groups under attack in Mindanao.

“Both in and out of Congress, she has all the time fought for the poor, workers and human rights against powerful opponents,” the Foundation wrote.

Awarding on 12 June

The Svensson prize is given to a person or organization that worked to promote trade union rights and or strengthen union organizing in the world.

The award is an international prize started by Industri Energi and awarded annually by the Committee for Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Rights.

The prize is at 500,000 Norwegian kroner. Half of the amount will be
given to the prize winner and a certain amount will be set aside for follow up work connected to the prize winner or similar projects.

The prize is named after the former leader of the Chemical Union Arthur Svensson who was known for his international advocacy. #

PNP ‘profiling’ of ACT members continues

Progressive teachers said they have monitored at least 34 visits by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to schools nationwide to look for teachers to “profile” as “communists”.

Since the start of the year, ACT said the PNP’s profiling activities have spread to 10 regions nationwide.

In a forum at the College of Education of the University of the Philippines in Diliman Thursday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said 13 schools in Metro Manila; four each in Regions I, III and IV-A; three in Region V (Bicol); two in the Cordillera Autonomous Region and one each in Regions IV-B, VI, X, and CARAGA were visited by the police.

School administrators were asked to give personal details of teachers who are ACT members, the group said.

In a memorandum dated December 27, the PNP ordered an inventory of ACT members the teacher’s federation said is “part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s grand fascist scheme to suppress all forms of opposition to its tyrannical rule.” 

Despite widespread condemnation of the PNP’s memorandum, ACT said police harassments continue.

In his speech, ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio condemned the PNP’s activities against ACT.

“If the police is really looking for criminals, it should look at itself, the military camps, or Malacañan Palace,” Basilio said.

ACT added that on top of police profiling, it has recorded nine cases of threats against its officers and members.

Basilio said he was among the four mentors who received death threats early this week.

“I miss my home and sleeping in my own bed. I have been staying in places other than my home because of what they may do to me,” he said.

The forum was attended by Education International (EI) officials.

In a Facebook post, ACT Teachers Party Representative Antonio Tinio said the EI visited Manila to show solidarity with ACT in its struggle against the Duterte administration’s surveillance, harassment, and terrorist-tagging.

ACT and EI launched the Teachers’ Complaint Hotline and Legal Kiosk (Teachers CHALK), a teacher’ defense system against state attacks.

Teachers’ CHALK is a hotline for teacher-victims of state violence and aims to encourage the public to support the teachers’ efforts to defend their ranks through social media campaign, rights education, legal defense, quick reaction mass activities, ACT said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers receive death threats; suffer red-tagging from educ official

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) officers revealed receiving death threats through phone calls this morning.

In a statement, ACT in Central Luzon said Raymond Basilo, ACT national secterary general, as well as three members of their regional executive board received separate calls and text messages from a person who alternately introduced himself as Juvy Canete, Henry Pimentel of Davao and Lt Guerrero.

The phone number used to call the victims.

Using mobile phone number 0949-5628576, Canete/Pimentel/Guerrero said he and others have been contracted to kill the teacher leaders.

“May apat na tirador kami na pinadala diyan sa Luzon para ipatumba [ka] at lahat ng miyembro ng pamilya mo,” one of the phone calls said.

ACT said the calls started at nine o‘clock, first to ACT Region III president Romly Clemente.

At 9:34 am, ACT Region III secretary Mathew Gutan received a call  from “Pimentel” who threatened him and his whole family, adding he had an hour to pay P6,000 for each of his family members to be spared.

At 9:47am, the same number called Basilio, but this time identifying himself as Lt. Guerrero, saying, “Handa ka na.”

The last call came at 10:20 to ACT Region III coordinator Aurora Santiago, issuing death threats to her and her family, asking her to give money in order for the “hit” not to take place.

Audio recording of the call to Au Santiago this morning.

ACT said the calls came after retiring Department of Education Region III director Beatriz Torno red-tagged the group, publicly alleging some of ACT members are New People’s Army (NPA) fighters.

Education officer red-tags ACT

In a February 6 forum of the Pampanga Press Club (PPC), Torno said that almost all provinces in Central Luzon are infiltrated by teachers who belong to ACT and are alleged NPA members, the Philippine Star reported

Torno did not say where she got the information nor could she give figures on how many ACT members in her region allegedly belong to the NPA, the report added.

ACT said Torno’s allegations are condemnable.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the act of our DepEd Regional III Director Beatriz Torno for her public statement categorically tagging ACT Region III as being infiltrated by the communist New People’s Army,”  Mathew Guetan Santiago, the group’s regional secretary-general said.

“This statement is highly irresponsible, baseless, and downright malicious! It does not only       malign the good name of our Union but worse, it also puts in danger the life and security of our  members who might be subjected to possible harm for being labelled as NPA members,” he added.

The group said they talked to the official to seek clarification who reportedly denied having uttered derogatory statements against ACT. 

“She also promised to issue a disclaimer through the media but she failed to do so,” ACT said.

ACT said it filed a complaint against Torno with the Ombudsman yesterday using a video recording of her public pronouncement posted on DepEd Region III website.

The group added they aim to make Torno criminally and administratively liable for her irresponsible and false accusation against ACT and its members.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

Makabayan files bill seeking exemption of journalists from anti-drug ops

The Makabayan Bloc at the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking the exemption of journalists from acting as witnesses in police anti-drug operations.

House Bill 8832 was filed Wednesday by ACT Teachers’ Party Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, Anakpawis Party Rep. Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Party Rep. Sarah Elago together with National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) officers.

The bill seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act 10640, otherwise known as “An Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Drug campaign of the Government,” which orders that journalists act as “optional witnesses” to drug operations.

The law amended section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” which earlier ordered that journalists act as mandatory witnesses to the police inventory of seized items in drug operations, along with elected officials and members of the National Proecution Service.

HB 8832 stemmed from an ongoing NUJP campaign against ordering journalists to as witnesses to police anti-drug operations.

According to the NUJP, journalists throughout the country report that law enforcement units continue requiring them to sign on as witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover anti-drug operations.

“Worse, there are reports that they are made to sign even if they did not actually witness the operation or the inventory of seized items,” the NUJP’s “Sign Against the Sign” campaign said.

Journalists who decline can find their sources or the normal channels of information no longer accessible, the media group added.

HB 8832 said that aside from the obvious coercion and attempts to control information of vital interest to the public, the media’s opposition to this practice also stems from the fact that it unnecessarily places journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates, on the one hand, and exposes them to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations, on the other.

The proposed measure said that journalists must be protected from harm and the anti-drug laws must help ensure that reportage on the government’s anti-drug operations must remain objective and factual.

Rep. Tinion said the Makabayan Bloc will ask Committee on Public Information chairperson Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar to schedule a hearing on the bill as soon as possible.

The NUJP for its part will ask Senate Committee on Public Information chairperson Senator Grace Poe to file a counterpart in the Senate. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PNP profiling of ACT members part of Duterte’s fascism, teachers group says

Efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to extract a list Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) members are part of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s fascist schemes, the teachers’ group said.

Reacting to visits by police operatives in schools and Department of Education (DepEd) offices last week to ask for a list of ACT members, the group accused both the PNP and the President of creating another “tokhang” list.

“This is part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s grand fascist scheme to suppress all forms of opposition to its tyrannical rule, further legitimized and strengthened by Duterte’s Executive Order 70 which converted the civilian bureaucracy into a fascist machinery,” ACT said in a strongly worded statement.

“This involves profiling, surveillance, identification, and neutralization of organizations critical to the current regime’s anti-people acts and policies,” one of the largest teachers’ organization in the country added.

A copy of a PNP-Zambales memorandum ordering the profiling of ACT members in the province. (ACT photo)

ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro revealed through a series of social media posts over the weekend that police operatives went around schools and DepEd offices to demand lists of ACT members citing a PNP memorandum as basis.

The operations appear to be nationwide in scale and points to the top PNP leadership as the main source of the order, the group alleged.

ACT said the PNP memorandum on the inventory and profiling of ACT members is very similar to the police’s list of drug users and peddlers, tens of thousands of whom ended up dead in nightly police raids all over the country.

“The PNP will have blood on their hands, and the fascist State shall be held responsible if anything untoward happens to any ACT member. We are not afraid. We have been through this time and again,” ACT national president Joselyn Martinez said.

Militant mentors

Founded in 1982, ACT is a nationalist and militant alliance of teachers and education workers that has attracted members due to its consistent struggle for higher salaries and benefits.

Its successes in the last decades enabled the group to create an allied political organization. ACT Teachers’ Party has two sitting legislators at the House of Representatives.

Its teachers’ union, the ACT Union has chapters nationwide and is recognized as a sole bargaining unit of teachers and education workers in several regions, including the National Capital Region.

“ACT is a legitimate teachers’ organization with a long history of service to professional teachers, education support personnel, and the Filipino people in general,” Martinez said.

ACT is known for fighting for higher teachers salaries and benefits. (ACT photo)

As a militant organization, ACT, however, has been the subject of attacks by police and military agents for being a “communist front.” Several of its members and organizers have been killed and jailed throughout the years.

‘Dastardly, illegal’

Profiling operations against ACT members is a Gestapo-style operation, ACT said of the latest PNP scheme against the group.

“The PNP has no business meddling in the affairs of teachers’ organization…Their dastardly act of profiling ACT members is maliciously casting unnecessary doubt on the legitimacy of ACT as an organization,” the group said.

The group also denounced DepEd officials who acceded to the PNP memorandum, “thereby inviting harm to their own employees and even their students.”

It urged DepEd officials to oppose the “unconstitutional” police operations that may violate teachers’ rights.

“DepEd must order the withholding of any information about ACT members which may be used by the PNP to intimidate and harass teacher-unionists who fight for decent salaries and benefits, for the people’s right to education and other basic services, and for the rights and well-being of the people,” it said.

As of this writing, the DepEd has reportedly ordered its officer in charge in the Manila Division of City Schools to rescind her order supporting the PNP memorandum.

CNN Philippines also reported Monday that PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of intelligence officers over the “leak” on the profiling of ACT members in Manila, Quezon City and Zambales Province.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm over the PNP’s operations against ACT and called on the police to adhere to the rule of law.

“Reports of alleged profiling of members of ACT are alarming as it violates rights to privacy and association, which are guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution among others,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia in a statement said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan to field Neri in next year’s Senate race

The Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan o MAKABAYAN held its fourth National Convention at the  Quezon City Sports Club last September 25, unanimously voting to again field former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmanares in the 2019 Senate race.

Themed “Bagong Pulitika, Demokrasya Hindi Diktadurya,” Makabayan said it aims to win not only in the next elections but also defeat Rodrigo Duterte’ s looming dictatorship and tyranny.

MAKABAYAN also presented nominees from its member parties—Gabriela Womens Party, ACT Teachers Party, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Kabataan.

It also announced Newly formed member parties—Manggagawa Party, Aksyon Health Workers Party, and Peoples Surge Party.  (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)