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5-puntong kahilingan, giit sa World Teachers’ Day

Nagdaos ng kilos-protesta ang mga gurong kasapi ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers para sa World Teachers’ Day noong Oktubre 5 sa Maynila.

Pangunahin nilang bitbit ang 5-puntong panawagan ng mga guro. Kabilang sa mga ito ang salary upgrade, overtime pay, laptops at P1,500 na internet allowance kada buwan, P3,000 inflation adjustment allowance at P10,000 tax-free election service honorarium.

Bukod dito, hiling din nila sa gobyerno ang ligtas na balik-eskwela sa mga lugar na may mababang kaso ng Covid-19.# (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

Teachers demand unpaid benefits, protest repression on World Teachers’ Day 2021

Unfazed by “thinly-veiled threats” by the Rodrigo Duterte government, teachers from various federations held protest actions in many schools in Metro Manila to demand for unpaid benefits on World Teachers’ Day today, October 5.

“Overworked, underpaid and under-supported” teachers held mini protest actions in their schools and hung tarpaulins listing five demands they said is owed them by the government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Manila Public School Teachers’ Association members participate in a nationally-coordinated protest action on World Teachers Day 2021.

Led by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the teachers said they demand salary upgrading, service credits and overtime pay, laptops and other gadgets for their online classes, P3,000 inflation adjustment allowance and P10,000 tax-exempt honorarium for their work as election inspectors in next year’s national and local elections.

“World Teachers’ Day is our day, and we are again presenting our dire situation and just demands on this day. We call on the Department of Education (DepEd) and the rest of the Duterte administration: spare us your empty messages of gratitude for teachers this year. This year, we urge you to simply listen and act on our just demands,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said in a statement.

ACT said the demands have been repeatedly presented to the DepEd but were instead met with threats of administrative charges if the teachers hold protest actions.

“The shameless attempts of DepEd to invalidate our calls and dampen our resolve to fight for teachers’ rights and welfare will not stand. Our teachers have been struggling for too long because of DepEd and Duterte’s extreme neglect and incompetence. We will take no more of it,” the group said.

Political repression

Aside from ignoring their economic demands, ACT said DepEd has allowed the government’s anti-insurgency campaign to sow terror among teachers who are members of various organizations.

In a press conference last Saturday, ACT recalled their organization has been the target of vicious red-tagging activities by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that has resulted in the filing of trumped up charges against their leaders.

The government also accused several universities in being involved in the so-called “Red October Plot” a Malacanan Palace spokesperson said was hatched to overthrow the Rodrigo Duterte administration.

The group also complained against NTF-ELCAC’s seminars among students and teachers as well as recently-revealed operations to purge libraries of alleged “subversive books.”

ACT however said the teachers are not fazed by government’s fascist campaigns.

“[W]e have the lessons of history on our side and we know where we stand. We will fight for academic freedom and all other rights and liberties put under siege by this wretched government,” the group said.

In Pasay City, ACT Teachers Party has chosen World Teachers Day to file its Certification of Nomination and Acceptance with the Commission on Elections for next year’s party list elections. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers demand better pay, safety measures for 2022 ‘pandemic poll duty’

Teachers asked the House of Representatives (HOR) to ensure better pay and safety measures when they render poll duties in next year’s national and local elections.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) members held a picket to press these demands at the HOR on Tuesday as Congress deliberated on the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) 2022 budget.

As the next elections would be held during a deadly pandemic, ACT said it will likely be among the most challenging in history.

“As teachers will be at the front lines of possibly one of the most precarious elections in recent years, we are calling on our legislators to not be too tightfisted and allot significant amount for poll workers’ compensation and for the establishment of safety and protective measures,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

ACT seeks for the following tax-exempt honoraria for board of election inspectors (BEI) members who are mostly composed of teachers:

  • Php10,000 for chairpersons of the electoral board;
  • Php9,000 for electoral board members;
  • Php8,000 for DepEd Supervisor Official (DESO);
  • Php7,000 for support staff; and
  • Php3,000 travel allowance for those in urban areas and Php5,000 for those in rural areas.

ACT said each poll worker should also be paid Php2,500 in food allowance and Php500 in hazard pay in addition to overtime pay for services rendered in excess of 24 hours on election day.

Both Comelec and the Department of Education earlier announced their desire to ask Congress for higher pay for teacher-poll workers.

ACT however expressed fears the PhP15-billion cut to Comelec’s original 2022 budget proposal would undermine their demand for “a proper, peaceful, and safe conduct of the 2022 elections.”

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the electoral boards will be the “most affected” by the planned budget proposal reduction by the HOR.

ACT’s Basilio recalled teachers faced many problems in the 2019 mid-term elections, such as insufficient pay and allowances that were taxed, uncompensated overtime of poll workers of up to 48 hours, health and safety concerns, among others.

“It’s always those on the ground who suffer the effects of paltry funding and poor planning, despite being the very backbone of facilitating the people’s exercise of their right to vote…[W]e expect our legislators to utilize the power given to them by the people to address all the issues concerning the 2022 elections, he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers denounce ‘state abandonment’ as school year opens

School teachers greeted the new school year with protest actions against what they call an “indifferent” Rodrigo Duterte administration that has abandoned the education sector amid a raging coronavirus crisis.

Teachers spent the last weekend before the new school year sorting distance learning modules, complaining they hardly had time to catch their breath from last school year. (ACT photo)

In a “sunrise protest” before the first day of classes this year, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) trooped to Mendiola Bridge in Manila to denounce “government neglect and utter disregard of teachers and students’ welfare.”

“Today, we will be forced into another school year of underfunded and ill-equipped distance learning, with no plans from the government on how it can safely re-open our school nor on how it will address the grave issues hounding DepEd’s (Department of Education) learning continuity plan,” the group said in a statement.

The teachers said the government failed to address for the second consecutive year their demand for the safe re-opening of schools and bigger state support for distance learning needs.

ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said teachers bore the brunt of the shift to remote learning when the pandemic hit last year, forcing them to remain “overworked, underpaid, and under-supported.”

Basilo added the DepEd continue to ignore their demands for overtime pay and service credits, Php1,500 monthly internet allowance, Php3,000 inflation adjustment allowance, hazard pay, and their overdue upgrading to salary grade 15 and other benefits to offset the additional hardships they endured because of the shift to online teaching mode.

In earlier “laptop protests,” teachers posted their photos collating printed modules for distribution to parents and students today they said should have been the responsibility of DepEd Central had it adequately prepared for the new school year.

The teachers also complained they themselves have to spend from their own pockets to enough teaching materials for the projected 20 million students to be enrolled this year.

“As state abandonment peaks, we have no one else to turn to but each other. The future of our youth and their right to accessible quality education now lies on the collective resolve of teachers, parents, and students to say ‘no more’ and demand better,” Basilio said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers spent the last weekend before the new school year sorting distance learning modules, complaining they hardly had time to catch their breath from last school year. (ACT photo)

Court junks police-military charge against teacher-unionist

By Joseph Cuevas

A municipal court in Agusan del Norte dismissed the case against a teacher and leader of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in the Caraga Region.

Citing lack of evidence, the 2nd municipal circuit trial court in Santiago Tubay approved the recommendation of the provincial prosecutor and ordered the dismissal of the attempted homicide charge filed against Rosanilla “Lai” Consad.

Consad is a special education teacher and assistant principal of San Vicente National High School in Butuan City. She is also a member of ACT’s National Council.

The court said, “Finding merit on the counterveilling evidence submitted by the accused Rosanilla ‘Lai’ Consad, the investigating Provincial Prosecutor recommended the dismissal of the case against her for total lack of evidence.”

The court added that the accused proved she was at home on November 21, 2020, the day of the ambush the military alleged she was part of.

Through messages stored on her mobile phone, the teacher proved she was busy with her laundry and was in fact assisted by her son on the morning of the incident.

She was also busy on Facebook and sending messages to her co-teachers and DepEd school supervisor.

Assistant Principal and Alliance of Concerned Teachers national council officer Rosanilla Consad. (Supplied photo)

Consad was arrested last March 17 by a combined team of police and military personnel who later charged her with the crime of attempted homicide for participating in a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush in Sitio Manhupaw in Santiago, Agusan Del Norte.

ACT hailed the court’s decision, adding the “ridiculous case” against Consad was only meant to harass and persecute her for being an ACT unionist.

“This is a clear case of the state’s deplorable weaponization of the law against critics and dissenters,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

The group said that in its press conference after Consad’s arrest, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) falsely claimed she was a high-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA officer.

Weeks after her arrest, NTF-ELCAC and DepEd Caraga also held a seminar that red-tagged teacher Lai in one of the presentations, ACT said.

ACT said it is preparing to file counter-charges against those who arrested and unjustly charged her. #

‘Tama na ang pambabarat sa mamamayan’

“Tama na ang pambabarat sa mamamayan, habang laging buhos ang pondo sa militar at sa mga gyera ni Duterte. Unahin ang serbisyo gaya ng edukasyon, hindi pasismo sa pangunguna ng NTF-ELCAC. Unahin ang ayuda, hindi CHA-CHA. Ito ang giit ng mga guro at ng mamamayan, at ‘yan ang dapat tugunan ng gobyerno.”Raymond Basilio, Secretary General, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

ACT, TDC express alarm as DepEd gathers numbers of members

Two teachers’ organizations oppose a Department of Education (DepEd) order to gather numbers of their members in several regions throughout the country.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) expressed alarm at the directive to division level officials on orders from DepEd Undersecretary for Field Operations Revsee Escobedo.

“As per reports, our union leaders in regions 1, 3, 4A, 4B, 6, 10, and CAR have been asked by their division offices to provide the number of ACT members in their area as per orders from Usec. Revsee,” ACT said in a statement Saturday, April 17.

TDC for its part bared that one notice sent through a Facebook chat group in one of the divisions in Region II reads: “Good morning everyone, the DepEd Central Office is surveying thru this online form, teachers, who are currently members of the (TDC) and (ACT). We appreciate receiving your feedback by filling out this Google form today until 12:00 Noon. All PSDS/Districts In-charge are requested to disseminate to all School Heads and Teachers in AOR (area of responsibility).”

Both organizations, victims of red-tagging operations by the police and military, said the order may be another profiling drive against their members.

‘For possible dialogues’

Escobedo confirmed to Kodao he issued the order but said it is in preparation for possible dialogues with both organizations and other teachers’ groups.

Department of Education Undersecretary for Field Operations, Atty. Revsee Escobedo. (Phjoto from DepEd Tayo FB page)

“I only asked for numbers, not names. How can we red-tag numbers?” Escobedo, also DepEd Employees Association Coordinating Office supervising official, said in a phone interview.

The official said they want to know the number of members of teachers’ groups to identify which organizations to initiate dialogues with on various issues such as salary increases.

He said the groups’ statements are overreactions.

‘No clear explanation’

Both teachers’ organizations however said the order, sent only through text and social media messages, lack explanation that gives rise to doubts as to its real intent.

ACT recalled that the Philippine National Police earlier asked school officials for the names of its members, several of whom were later accused of being communists or communist sympathizers.

“This is eerily reminiscent of the 2019 police profiling of our members, which precluded worse attacks on our members and on our very organization,” ACT said.

The group said its members Nestor Ada and Lai Consad have been arrested and charged with trumped-up charges after being profiled and subsequently red-tagged.

Ada, a high school principal, is still in jail in Northern Samar three months after being arrested on charges of illegal possession of guns and explosives in campus.

Assistant Principal Consad was also arrested at her school in Butuan City last November after being red-tagged by the police and the military.

“So we’re understandably alarmed at (the) sudden interest with our members,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

TDC for its part said it will instruct its members not to participate in the “survey, profiling and inventory” of its members that “has no clear objectives and hastily done through Google Forms, text messages, Facebook messages or phone calls.”

ACT said DepEd has never defended teachers and school officials who fell victim to red-tagging and persecution by other government agencies.

The DepEd is a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘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

BISIKLETA MO AT AKTIBISMO

(Alay kay Ka Eb Montes)

Ni Fabian G. Hallig

Akala ko libangan lang ang hilig mo sa pagpadyak

Dibersyon sa pagkabagot at hinaharap na problema

Hersisyong pangkatawang sa isip din ay pampatalas

Sinisikap pag-ugmain galaw ng bisig at paa

Subali’t para sa iyo’y hindi lang ganyan ang layon mo

Kundi paglingkurin ito sa pagtupad ng tungkulin

Matalino mong pinag-ugnay bisikleta’t aktibismo

Pandayan ng teorya’t praktikang nagsisilbi sa simulain

Sa bisikleta mo inaaral ang siyensya ng paggalaw

Ang ugnayan ng bagay-bagay at pangyayari sa paligid

Ang koordinasyon ng makina at pisikal na katawan

Kung kailan liliko, hihinto at muling bubuwelong mabilis

Di mo alintana ang pitig ng pagod na mga binti

Ang ngalay na mga braso’t kamay habang iyong tinatahak

Landas na palayo sa pugad ng mga buwayang kati

Na tinakasan na ng konsyensya habang nagpapakabundat

Ginto sa’yo bawa’t saglit na ginugugol sa pagmumulat

Sa pag-oorganisa’t pagpapakilos ng mga guro ng bayan

Mga masa at aktibistang sa Inang Bayan ay lumiyag

Namanatang maglilingkod sa guro at sambayanan

Mahalaga rin para saiyo ang gamit mong bisikleta

Batid mong bawa’t pagpadyak pag-usad ng kasaysayan

Ng pagsulong ng kilusang guro at ng malawak na masa

Tungo sa tunay na pagbabagong hangad ng buong sambayanan.

###

Due to public pressure and clamor, DepEd moves school opening to October 5

By Joseph Cuevas

The Department of Education (DepEd) announced last Friday, August 14, the postponement of school opening originally set on August 24, 2020 to October 5, 2020.

According to DepEd, the memorandum given by the Office of the President to defer school opening to October 5 is pursuant to Republic Act No. 11480.

DepEd will use the deferment to provide relief to the logistical limitations faced by the areas placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine and to fill in the remaining gaps of the school opening it is currently addressing.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers ACT said that DepEd’s decision was brought about by “very valid and sound arguments which the agency can no longer deny.”

“We have proven today that the people’s voices can and will triumph, and we shall continue to push the government to fulfill the requisites for a safe, accessible, and quality education,” ACT said in a statement.

The group added that preparedness at the minimum means a 1:1 module set to pupil ratio ready for distribution by August 24, a 1:1 ratio of laptop to teachers, internet subsidy to teachers and learners, health screening and PPEs for teachers, and medical fund for free treatment if they get infected with COVID-19.

ACT said it received complaints from school heads about the late release of funds from the DepEd Central office as well as depleted school funds for module printing.

The central office only released funds and utilization guidelines for module reproduction on the latter half of July, ACT said.

ACT photo

Many school heads said that the P9 billion downloaded funds from the central office have not yet reached the school level resulting in the failure to deliver the needed modules any day earlier than October given the stringent procurement rules and lengthy processes, the group added.

ACT said that DepEd has not given any assistance to teachers specifically responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that they are not asking beyond “hard-won and hard-earned benefits and entitlements of personnel, as well as already apportioned funds even before the health crisis.”

October 5 falls on International Teachers Day.

Better aid, wage subsidy for private school teachers

ACT-Private Schools also called on the government to support displaced private school teachers and personnel nationwide as the House of Representatives is set to finalize the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (BARO) Part 2.

ACT-Private Schools secretary-general Jonathan Geronimo said that even with a one-time cash assistance of five to eight thousand pesos will not rectify the past six months of state neglect, and will not at all suffice to cover their needs.

Geronimo challenged the Rodrigo Duterte administration to help educators, particularly the “long ignored private education sector nationwide” by granting a decent amount covering the months of COVID-19 lockdowns.

ACT Private Schools demanded the following:

(1) Better and more dignified aid,

(2) wage subsidy to teachers and staff,

(3) zero-interest loans for small to medium-sized private schools to sustain their operations, and

(4) an allocation of funds for the health and safety of private school teachers and personnel. #