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.
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.
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)