CLARK FREEPORT — The outgoing director of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Central Luzon has confirmed reports that some members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in the region are active members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
At the “Talk Widus” forum of the Pampanga Press Club here last Wednesday, DepEd director Beatriz Torno, who is retiring this month, said that almost all provinces in Central Luzon are infiltrated by teachers who belong to ACT are also NPA members.
Torno did not say where the information was sourced, but noted that DepEd has a current program with law enforcers on anti-terrorism efforts. She also could not give figures on how many ACT members in her region also belong to the NPA.
Asked whether the ACT teachers she was referring to were active NPA members, she said “Yes.”
ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio said reports of police profiling of ACT members had poured in from Tarlac, Bulacan, Cebu, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Zambales, Manila, Navotas, Malabon and Agusan del Sur since the start of 2019.
“Some areas, like Manila and Zambales, even have memo from the division offices of the Department of Education,” Basilio said.
“In other cities, there is no memo, but requests come in via SMS or messages to mobile phones or via Facebook messenger and some orders are verbal,” he added.
ACT already filed complaints last Jan. 28 against the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership, claiming that harassment and surveillance of their members was continuing.
ACT members filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, Metro Manila police chief Director Guillermo Eleazar, and 19 other cops.
Año and the police face criminal complaints for violations of the Data Privacy Act and Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, and an administrative complaint for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
In a statement, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted that “reports of alleged profi ling of members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers are alarming as it violates rights to privacy and association, which are guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution among others. Should there be clear grounds against ACT and its members, then the police should be transparent in applying the law and equally ensure that due process is observed. Clandestine operations may lead to a number of abuses as it is easier to deny accountability for any action.”
“We urge the government, particularly the Philippine National Police, to clarify such allegations, especially that a provincial police office confirmed such orders to profile ACT members but other leaderships have denied it. It is important for our police force to stay true to their role as law enforcers. After all, it is their sworn duty to serve and protect the rights of every Filipino,” the CHR said.
The intelligence list of ACT members is being compiled by the PNP which has so far only given vague reasons for doing it, such as to monitor “who they are affiliated with.”