ACT says worse attacks on teacher-unionists yet to come, wants E.O. 70 and NTF-ELCAC to end

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The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Wednesday denounced the worsening repressive measures and vicious smear campaign launched by the Duterte government against their unions and members as part of the implementation of the assailed Executive Order  70, s. 2018 or the “Whole-of-Nation”  Approach to ending counterinsurgency.

In a statement, ACT Philippines  said  that civilian and military/police agencies were consolidated under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and civilian bureaucracy was re-oriented “towards the government’s war objectives and away from providing services.”

“These concerted attacks constitute a violation of our union rights, freedom of association, our liberties, and right to privacy. It is even more deplorable that through President Duterte’s EO 70, the people’s coffers are being used to discredit and repress legitimate exercises of our hard won rights,”  ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, said.

The group revealed that ACT’s Region X President Teacher Ophelia Tabacon, who was subjected to PNP’s profiling in 2018 and harassment, red-tagging, threats, and surveillance from suspected state agents, now face “ridiculous trumped up charges”  alleging her and 467 others to be involved in an New People’s Army (NPA)  Raid in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

“Despite Teacher Ophelia’s well-documented counter-response to the charges against her, the courts arbitrarily dismissed her motion. A warrant of arrest has now been issued against her and the rest of the accused in the case—many of whom only have aliases in the complaint, making suspect the supposedly judicious process undertaken by the court before giving the charges any merit,” said Basilio.

ACT said  this as part of worse attacks on teacher-unionists since the start of 2020. Aside from the warrant on arrest against Tabacon, ACT cited trumped-up charges vs Teacher Analyn Tantoy of Caraga, intensified profiling, surveillance, and terrorist tagging of ACT Bataan teacher-leaders, and heightened harassment on Teacher Lai Consad of Caraga who previously experienced being tailed and surveilled by unidentified men and being visited and harassed by a military agents in her school.

Others forms of attacks against their union and other legitimate people’s organizations include the discrimination against ACT by DepEd officials and offices, and the conduct of seminars on the government’s drug war and counterinsurgency program in schools through the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDT) where legitimate organizations are tagged as terrorists and communist fronts. 

ACT noted that aside from the direct attacks against their rights and liberties, their unions have also been subjected to indirect repression through DepEd’s seemingly deliberate lack of response to their requests, thereby indirectly prohibiting them from exercising their union rights and conducting union activities.

The group demanded the junking of EO 70 and the dismantling of the NTF-ELCAC. ACT also sought justice for their members who continue to suffer various forms of rights violations./Stacy Ang

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