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Teachers condemn arrest of Butuan City vice principal

By Joseph Cuevas

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) condemned the arrest of a union leader in Butuan City and called for her immediate release.

Rosanilla “Teacher Lai” Consad, ACT secretary in Region XIII, a special education teacher and an assistant principal of San Vicente National High School, was arrested yesterday, March 17, at around 4:30 pm in Butuan City by Regional Intelligence Unit 13 of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the police and military.

Consad is also a member of ACT’s National Council.

Consad is being charged with attempted homicide in relation to a New People’s Army ambush in Sitio Manhupaw, Brgy. Poblacion 2, Santiago in Agusan del Norte last November 21.

ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio said that Consad had been a victim of state vilification and repression since 2018.

In November 2019, she reported about intelligence agents visiting her school to inform her that she and her husband are part of a certain hit list supposedly for being activists.

“Teacher Lai’s case only proves that terrorist-tagging serves as a prelude to worse, more fascist attacks on rights, freedoms, and lives. All of which are part of the Duterte regime’s systematic attack on the Filipino people as it desperately seeks to silence all dissent and establish its tyrannical rule,” Basilio said.

ACT Teachers Party slams DILG memo

Meanwhile, ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro said that teacher Lai has been a victim of harassment, threats and red-tagging by state security forces for standing up for the rights and welfare of her fellow public school teachers in Caraga.

“The arrest came days after the DILG release a memorandum tagging ACT and other progressive groups in the public sector as a communist terrorist groups. These are the real threats of red-tagging to the safety, security and freedoms of activists, human rights defenders and union leaders who have been vocal about the failure of the Duterte administration in addressing the perennial crisis of the country’s health system, education system and economy,” Castro said.

ACT Teachers Party will file a house resolution in Congress to investigate Consad’s arrest, Castro added

Consad is expected to file a petition today to be allowed post bail. #

‘Anong klase ang gobyernong Durterteng ito’

“Anong klase ang gobyernong Duterteng ito? May krisis sa kalusugan, may krisis sa ekonomiya, may krisis sa distance learning. Pero walang ginagawa ang gobyernong ito kundi ang Cha-Cha, ang terror-tagging, ang panunupil at panghuhuli [sa] katulad nila Teacher Chad, 25 na Lumad, at iba pang bilanggong politikal.”Vladimir Quetua, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

‘Wala pa ring programang matino para sa mga kabataan at sektor ng edukasyon’

“Habang pataas ng pataas ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa ay nananatili namang bulag at bingi ang pamahalaang Duterte [at] ang DepEd sa nga hinaing ng mga guro at magulang. Kahit pa man pataas at palala ang kaso ng pandemya sa bansa ay wala pa rin siyang programang matino para sa mga kabataan at sektor ng edukasyon.”Raymond Basilio, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

DepEd, hindi hinarap ang mga gurong nakikipag-dayalogo

Nagtungo sa punong tanggapan ng Department of Education ang mga lider-guro noong Hunyo 19 upang makipag-dayalogo sana kaugnay ng pagpapapasok sa kanila simula sa Lunes. Nakasarang tarangkahan ang sumalubong sa kanila.

Ayon sa mga lider ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers at ACT Teachers Union-National Capital Region, wala silang natatanggap na pasabi kung paano mag-iingat ang mga guro sa pagpapasok sa kanila. Wala rin daw silang natatanggap na pasabi kung mayroon ba at kailan ang mass testing, libreng pagpapagamot sa mga magkakasakit ng Covid-19, internet para sa “blended learning” ng kagawaran, at iba pang katanungan. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas)

Red-tagged teacher receives international award

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) secretary general Raymond Basilio is this year’s National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) International Solidarity Award “for bravery and commitment in promoting human and trade union rights.”

In an letter, NASUWT, the teachers union of the United Kingdom (UK), also cited Basilio for his advocacy for quality education for all and for defending [the] status of teachers.

“The NASUWT International Solidarity Award honors those who uphold our shared, universal trade union values of solidarity, equality and democracy,” the announcement reads.

ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio. (Supplied photo)

“We recognize that you have been a vocal advocate of the right of all children to quality education and of the rights of teachers,” it adds.

Basilio had been the victim of vicious red-tagging by the Philippine military, prompting him to refrain from going home to his family for long stretches.

“[W]e wish…to express our deep concern and dismay at the continuing state-sponsored threats and harassment that you and your (ACT) members have been subjected to, including profiling, red-tagging, vilification, harassment, intimidation and threats,” NASUWT said.

NASUWT said that along with Amnesty International, Education International and the International Trade Union Confederation it will press the Philippine government to allow Basilio to carry out his legitimate trade union activities without fear of harassment or imprisonment.

“The NASUWT wants you, and the teachers in the Philippines, to be assured of our continued support and solidarity,” the union told Basilio.

The union said it hopes the award will help maintain a spotlight on the actions of the Philippine government and provide Basilio with reassurance that NASUWT and the wide international community, continue to support him fully and ACT as champions of the rights of teachers and students.

Previous recipients of the prize since 2013 include teachers rights champions from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Korea, Turkey, Iran and Argentina.

The NASUWT announcement said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, it regrets that Basilio would not be able to receive the prize in the UK in person. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Tulong Guro’ sa panahon ng COVID lockdown

Habang nasa ika-anim na linggo na ang enhanced community quarantine sa buong Luzon dahil sa Covid-19, marami sa mga Filipino ang higit nangangailangan ng tulong.

Ang ACT for People’s Health na pinangungunahan ng mga progresibong guro ay naglunsad ng “Tulong Guro” na ang layunin ay makapagbigay-tulong sa mga frontliner, laluna na sa mga health workers at mahihirap na pamayanan habang lockdown.

Background music: A life in a day Cinematic Folk Ambient Cinematic Sounds [KK No Copyright Music] / Bidyo nina Jola Diones-Mamangun, Arrem Alcaraz at Joseph Cuevas

Groups hold noise barrage calling for mass virus testing

by Sanafe Marcelo

Various organizations held noise barrages in several communities around Metro Manila Thursday, March 26, demanding free mass testing for health workers and patients with corona virus disease (COVID-19) symptoms.

Ilang residente ng Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City

In Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City, Gabriela Women’s Party member Tess Arboleda said their noise barrage inside their homes and through social media are in support of calls for mass testing of so-called frontliners in the fight against the pandemic.

The activity also demanded food and financial assistance to poor families and workers who could no longer work because of the government-imposed lockdown.

Arboleda added that the poor are already worried because their resources and savings are fast running out two weeks into the island-wide lockdown.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines also participated in the noise barrage and in the “Tiktok” online dance challenge to call for more government support.

The teachers also called for “emergency assistance, not emergency power.”

Congress has passed bills granting President Rodrigo Duterte so-called emergency powers to realign funds to address the pandemic, among other special powers.

Members of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Bayan Muna, and Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) also participated in the noise barrage. #

Groups launch network to defend activists from trumped-up charges

By Joseph Cuevas

Quezon City—Human rights group Karapatan and other progressive organizations formed a network to defend activists and and rights defenders in Mindanao against trumped-up charges and harassments by state forces under the Rodrigo Duterte government Wednesday, February 12.

Defend Mindanao, a campaign network in defense of Mindanao human rights defenders and development workers, also called on the Commission on Human Rights  to investigate and facilitate remedies for the embattled activists.

According to Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, co-convenor of Defend Mindanao and herself a Manobo tribal leader, Mindanao has been a factory mill of trumped-up criminal charges against activists.

Last March 2019, the Provincial Prosecutors Office of Bayugan City filed charges of kidnapping, arson, robbery and serious illegal detention against 468 individuals, including 78 known activists in Caraga and Northern Mindanao.

Cullamat added that although martial law in Mindanao has been lifted last December 2019, the arrest of Nestor Amora, a businessman and former barangay captain in Surigao City, and Karapatan national council member Engr. Jennifer Aguhob in Oroquietta City, prove that martial law still exists in the island through Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70.

She added that EO 70 allows the implementation of a de facto martial law in Mindanao and all over the country.

Other forms of human rights violations

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) denounced the inclusion of teacher Ophelia Tabacon, ACT Region 10 chairperson, among the 467 persons charged with kidnapping, serious illegal detention and destructive allegedly commited against police personnel from December 2018 to February 2019.

ACT said Tabacon also recieved death threats through her social media accounts and subjected to various form of surveillance and harassments by suspected State security forces.

Aside from the teachers’ group, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) also reported villifications and red-tagging by State forces.

KMU said leaftlets linking its allied National Federations of Labor Union have been distributed in Caraga region they said are the handiwork of the military.

Sr. Emma Cupin, current regional coordinator of RMP in Northern Mindanao, is also included in a warrant of arrest.

(Photo by Joseph Cuevas)

Hitlist

Defend Mindanao said the arrest warrants for the 468 respondents is a hitlist of the Duterte government that often leads to extra-judicial killings of activists.

The group said the red-baiting tactics of the government lump together civilian activists with the armed combatants of the New People’s Army in a bid to make them targets of military combat operations and legal offensives.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said that such tactics is an illegal practice and weaponization of law against critics and disenters.

The lawyers’ group cited issued warrants from courts they said are without complete examination of complainants and witnesses as well as submission of evidences. 

The NUPL challenged the Department of Justice to investigate public prosecutors who handle what they say are trumped-up cases against the activists. #

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)