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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
A human rights lawyer said the couple reported arrested by the Philippine National Police in Balagtas, Bulacan last Saturday were actually abducted and slapped with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.
Atty. Kristina Conti said that Rowena and Oliver Rosales were simple former officials and organizers of the Confederation for the Unite, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and were not members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Absolute rubbish to call them NPA members. They are civilians, activists if you may, working in the cities and suburbs for change. Whatever charges alleging violence on their part will fail, as they already have against others,” Conti said on her Facebook account.
“Abductions like this are followed by trumped up charges. We’ve seen this many times before. Stop the ludicrous charges!” she added.
According to Conti, the Rosales couple were on their way home on board a tricycle from selling their wares at the Balagtas Public Market when abducted by five men who did not identify themselves as police and military personnel.
The couple were reportedly blindfolded and handcuffed before being dragged to a car.
It was only when they were taken to Camp Crame in Quezon City that the victims were informed of a warrant of arrest against them.
Their family only learned the couple was taken to Camp Crame when they inquired with the Balagtas Police that informed them it was the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group that were looking for the couple.
The couple were taken to Bulacan Monday morning to face inquest proceedings, Conti told Kodao.
Conti said that couple are being charged with illegal possession of explosives.
“There was instant picture-taking of explosives yesterday [at Camp Crame],” Conti said.
Rowena is also charged with arson in Agusan, the lawyer added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)