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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)

Teachers call for 30K salary increase

By April Burcer

Despite the rains, teachers from all over Metro Manila marched Wednesday afternoon (June 4) on EDSA to call for an across-the-board salary increase for mentors and employees in the education sector.

After their General Representatives’ Assembly earlier organized by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-National Capital Region (ACT-NCR) Union, the teachers also demanded higher education budget and bigger chalk budget, among other issues.

The teachers’ assembly called for an increase in the monthly salary of non-teaching personnel to 16,000 and new teachers to 30,000 as proposed in House Bill 7211 filed by the ACT Teachers Party in Congress.

Joselyn Martinez, ACT-NCR Union President, criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for going back on his promise to increase teachers’ salaries even as he doubled the minimum wages of police and military personnel.

Duterte announced last month that he will increase the salary of teachers, although it will not be as substantial as those received by police and military personnel “because the government cannot afford it.”

ACT said teachers have only recently received a meager increase of 551 pesos per month under Executive Order (EO) No. 201 signed by President Benigno Aquino in 2016 that mandated a four-year pay increase for public sector workers.

ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said that the Office of the President, Vice-President, senators and cabinet secretaries, on the other hand, have enjoyed the highest salary increases under EO 201.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier declared that a special salary increase for teachers will only happen on 2020 when EO 201 is no longer in effect.

“They say we don’t have enough money for the teacher’s salary increase, but they have more than enough budget to pay for our external debt, for military expenses, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and pork barrel allocations,” Basilio said.

Overworked but underpaid.

ACT-NCR Union is also calling for better working environment for the overworked teachers.

Under the K-12 program, teachers have to deal with Individual Performance Commitment and Review Form (IPCRF) and other paperwork that eat up a lot of time, Basilio said.

Basilio added the limit of 26 children per class mandated by the Department of Education is also not being implemented, leaving teachers with up to 80 students per class.

Basilio is also concerned that the soon-to-be-implemented Learners’ Information System (LIS) will leave teachers with no sleep because these shall be held throughout the night.

ACT-NCR Union demands free annual medical and dental examination, regulation of class size and teaching load, provision of official time and union time privilege, and improvement of compensation during the next collective negotiation agreement to offset their overworked conditions.

ACT Partylist Representative Franz Castro for her part presented their effort to increase chalk allowance from 2,500 to 5000, augment the Personnel Economic Relief Assistance (PERA) to 5000 pesos, and provide teaching supplies allowance of 5000 pesos per classroom teacher per school year.

However, Castro said that it will not be possible to win this fight without the support of the teachers.

“Let’s join together in the coming State of the Nation Address to voice out our call for salary increases,” Castro said.  #

‘There’s no such thing as tambay culture’

“There is no such thing as a tambay culture. That practice is a result of workers’ ways of dealing with precarious work, it’s how the jobless deal with joblessness, and joblessness as we all know is a result of a backward non-industrial economy based on export orientation and import-dependence.” —Prof. Sarah Raymundo, sociologist

A meme by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers on the issue of President Duterte’s order to the Philippine National Police to arrest loiterers in communities.

Hindi Ako Maglo-Loan (Petmalu na joke)

Ni Jocelyn C. Tripole

Hindi ko alam paano simulan
Baka maraming magtaasan
Wala pong personalan
Hindi po ako exempted sa listahan
Huwag po magtaka para-paraan
Ang aking joke gusto ko pong simulan.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Kahit pilipitin hindi makiki-isa
Ayoko makiuso sa mga kasama.
Unang taon sa eskwela
Kasama ang pisara
May darating daw na bisita.
So, ang naging resulta
Nag-loan ang maestra
Kasi ang room dapat pleasing sa mata.
Hindi ako maglo-loan
Ayoko nang sundan pa
Tama na ang isa,makaahon na sana
Sa dami ng reports at paperworks
Dapat nakikisabay ka
Printer, computer, laptop
In-demand naman talaga
Kaya sa bangko doon ako nagpunta.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Ayoko na! Ayoko na!
Konting-konti na lang ang natitira
Hindi nauubos ang aking pasensya
Seminar, training , coaching
Hindi ka pwedeng magpa-bitin
Kaya sa bulsa mo, dukot-dukot pa rin
Ang classroom, dapat home-na-home ang dating
Take note: galing pa rin sa bulsa namin
Ang garden at reading ating pagandahin.
So, loan ulit naging solusyon natin.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Pero may bahay na mareremata
Ang anak na ospital pa
May tuition fee na umaarangkada
Mura na lang talaga ang mura
Oo, isa kang paasa
Si kuya kailangan ng puhunan
Si ate manganganak na naman
Wala nang maintenance ang aking magulang
Si bunso kailangan din damitan
May lupang dapat interesan
May utang na dapat bayaran
Kuryente, tubig nagtaasan
Kaya ang bangko ang naging takbuhan
Sa tuwing may dinaramdam si ma’am
So, ‘wag nyo kong husgahan
Kung ang pay slip aking inaabangan.

Hindi ako maglo-loan
Joke ko lang naman yun
Kung gusto mong seryosohin
Bahala ka na dun.

Habang hindi tinataasan
Ang sweldong nakalimutan
Hindi ako maglo-loan
Habang buhay kong joke un
Pwede mong seryosohin
Bahala ka na tsong!

 

(Ang makata ay isang guro sa Bulacan. Kahapon, nag-protesta ang mga guro sa pangunguna ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers sa punong tanggapan ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon laban sa pagtanggal ni Kalihim Leonor Briones sa net take home pay ng mga pampublikong guro upang masigurong mayroon silang maiuuwing apat na libong piso man lamang kada buwan.)

The profession that never pays enough

By Reynald Denver del Rosario of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions

LUDY LOCSIN would sit in her empty cream-colored office on most school day mornings, waiting for students to arrive. Before long, she would see through her window parents dropping off their children and seeing them off to their classrooms.  When the school bell rings at seven that is when her own official day begins.

That she says is the most peaceful time of her workday. As the first classes begin, calm descends on the entire school and she has time to read documents and tackle problems an assistant principal is expected to solve.

The bell would ring again before noon and she becomes busier, greeting parents who would enter her room for whatever concern they have with their children’s education. Preschool students would also regularly drop in with purple stars on their wrists and tell her how its ink has stained their uniforms. She would listen, always with a smile.

In the afternoons, Locsin would meet her class for an hour in the next school building. She dreads this part of the day, she says. It isn’t the chemical equations or the periodic table she would ask her students to master, but the flight of stairs she has to conquer first before she can reach her classroom. For someone who will turn 55 soon, climbing to the third floor has started to become hard.

For an hour, she would stand in front of her class and make sense out of what the chemistry textbook says. She would write on the chalkboard formulae trying to make equations interesting to teenagers. She knows her students find the subject hard. She knows they are sometimes distracted because they are almost always bored with offline activities. She admits to finding high school students increasingly hard to teach. But she coaxes them with patience and kindness. Every student in the school knows her as the school’s motherly figure.

She could have been a chemical engineer, she says. But she chose to be a teacher only because her other friends did. Eventually, she fell in love with it and never looked back. She has learned and taught it all, from literature to science to mathematics. On odd occassions, she is also the school’s guidance counselor, substitute teacher, sometimes its cashier.

Kulang na lang, maging driver ako ng school bus,” she said, laughing.

She has been teaching in the same private school for twenty years now. She smiles as she looks back at its humble beginnings. From 40 pupils to as high as 600, it has definitely come a long way, she says. She has seen a lot of changes in the school, both good and bad.

Facilities are lacking. An almost-empty science laboratory, outdated computers, damaged speech laboratory equipment. Teachers like her find themselves improvising and finding ways to still provide quality education to the students. The school administration has sought ways to deal with these problems, but it still isn’t enough.

Ludy’s story may be ordinary for private school teachers like her in the Philippines.  But rarely is it acknowledged that those like her receive much smaller salaries than their public school colleagues. And this is their biggest problem.

Private school teachers have lower salaries

According to Representative France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), private school teachers only receive an average salary of P10,000 per month. She cited a case where a private school in Isabela only pays their entry-level teachers as low as P8,000 a month.

Minsan nga, umaabot lang yan ng P3,000 e,” she said.

Public school teachers, on the other hand, receive an average monthly salary of P19,620 per month, significantly less than the living wage of more than P26,000 for a family of six.

Teacher Ludy herself was a victim. It was only a year ago that she began receiving the minimum monthly wage from her school. She complained to a government agency, to no avail. She is her school’s regular employee in all but salary and benefits. She did not even remember when she became one.

Schools take care of their teachers, she was told at the start of her career. For two decades, she has learned not to ask for much. Her children, now working, studied in the school for free. Her workplace is a three-minute walk away from home. Her load has become lighter, and in a way, she’s relieved. Her life is simple; her love for teaching is good enough recompense, she told herself.

Her fellow teachers, on the other hand, aren’t as lucky. She has seen them come and go, choosing to find greener pastures. Many of them work now for other institutions. Her colleague for 15 years has recently gone to a public school, and she can’t blame her.

“Mas okay ang sahod doon, at mas magaan ang load,” Ludy says.

Public school teachers also have a relatively lighter teaching load compared to their private school counterparts. It is not always observed, but a public school teacher, by law, is only required to handle minimum of six hours per day, compared to a private school teacher who has to endure nine to 10 hours of work. Some are forced to work overtime but don’t get compensated.

The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) also guarantees comparably better working conditions for public school teachers than private school teachers. Private school teachers are covered only by the Labor Code, made ineffectual by numerous loopholes and exemptions, that subjects workers to unfair practices and labor conditions such as low salaries and contractualization.

In short, our private school teachers are more overworked and underpaid than their already overworked and underpaid counterparts in public schools,” Castro said.

Castro added RA4670 by no means make things easier for public school teachers.  Teaching in Philippine public schools still needs much to be desired.

“If things are a little bit better for public school teachers than their private school counterparts, it is only because the former are more organized and have taken to the streets numerous times to defend their rights,” she said.

Unrecognized heroes

Through two decades of selfless dedication, Teacher Ludy has been promoted to assistant principal. But she still cannot help but wish things are better for teachers like her. In moments of doubt, Teacher Ludy thinks of the job and the students she has grown to love.

Doon ako masaya. Doon na lang ako bumabawi. Kita mo itong school, hindi naman ganung kaganda kumpara sa iba pero ang daming estudyante. Kasi maganda ang pakikitungo ng teachers. Yun ang puhunan dito,” she says.

School has meant smiling faces and dreams coming true for Ludy. It gives her more hope, more drive to wake up in the morning and go through the daily grind. Her life as a teacher has been a story of compromise, but she endured it all to be a part of something bigger than herself. Seeing students change for the better and achieve the best things in life has always been her life’s biggest reward. For two decades, she’s still enjoys her work. She enjoys being a part of her students’ lives. She sees in them high hopes and dreams, that someday she will read about them in newspapers or see them in television, talking about how successful they’ve become.

But just like other things, she knows it isn’t forever. Last year, Teacher Ludy already entertained thoughts of retiring, but she changed her mind.

“Hintayin ko na yung retirement age ko. Kung magre-resign ako, wala akong makukuha,” she says. She is not sure the school would pay her retirement benefits if she goes through with her plan and that made her decide to wait it out for half a decade more.

Teacher Ludy waits for the day when the school bell would ring for her one last time. She dreams of no longer answering phone calls, climbing flights of stairs and writing chemical equations on the blackboard. When it comes, she plans on taking it easy at home. It would be a happy moment when an odd student or two would visit her, tell their stories, tell her how life had been. She would listen as she now does in her office, she says, because that would just about be the only proper payment she would receive from decades of dedication and sacrifice from a profession that never pays enough. #

 

Teachers slam DepEd’s anti-teacher statements and policies, demand salary increase

Report and photos by Denver Del Rosario of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions

PASIG CITY—Teachers from the National Capital Region (NCR) staged a protest at the Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday to denounce Secretary Leonor Briones for her anti-teacher remarks and policies.

“She reiterated her insensitive statement that teachers are well-compensated and shall not receive local allowances and additional teaching supplies allowances,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Philippines Chairperson Benjamin Valbuena said.

Bonifacio Memorial Elementary School teacher Reynaldo Ga also slammed Briones saying the official is lying about teachers’ salaries.

“She is really a liar because deductions from our salaries are enormous. In my case alone, P3,000  is being deducted from my salary,” Ga said.

DepEd said entry level teachers receive a gross salary of P24,399 per month which includes their basic pay, Personal Economic Relief Allowance, and personal benefit contributions such as GSIS, Philhealth and PAGIBIG, among others.

ACT-Philippines, however, said teachers only take home P16,000 after tax and contributions.

The amount is less than half of the Ibon Foundation-announced monthly living wage of P33,570 for a family of six.

Martinez said Briones shot down their proposal to have their chalk allowance increased from P2,500 to P5,000.

Teachers are forced to spend their own monies various school events and requirements, Ga added.

“During summer breaks when we are supposed to be on vacation, DepEd forces us to attend so many seminars that we have to pay for ourselves,” Ga revealed.

“Teachers are really being made to suffer a great injustice as we were only given a measly P500 salary increase these past two years,” ACT Teachers Party’s Joy Martinez said.

According to Martinez, Briones also rejected other suggestions to increase teachers’ salaries.

Briones was among three cabinet secretaries who issued DepEd-DBM-DILG Joint Circular No.1 S. 2017 that prohibits the use of the Special Education Fund for the teachers’ local allowance.

The teachers said Briones has yet to hold a dialogue with the teachers regarding their salaries and benefits.

“We already wrote to her several times, but she refuses to talk to us.  She is close-minded as she only favors private businesses over the public,” Martinez said. #

Educators urge lifting of martial law in Mindanao

Educators who participated in the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission in the Lanao provinces last June 13 to 16 are demanding the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao.

In a press briefing at the University of the Philippines last June 20, the educators said martial law and the indiscriminate manner in which the war against terror groups in Marawi City is being conducted are creating a grave humanitarian crisis that victimizes civilians. Read more