PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said they will give their side to the NPC, which sought an explanation from them on the reported profiling of members of the militant teachers’ group.
PNP ready to explain ‘profiling’ of ACT members
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is nothing wrong with “profiling” members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the Philippine National Police (PNP) said yesterday.

The PNP also expressed readiness to explain the issue before the National Privacy Commission (NPC).

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said they will give their side to the NPC, which sought an explanation from them on the reported profiling of members of the militant teachers’ group.

“We have not violated anything here,” Albayalde told a news briefing.

Albayalde insisted there was nothing wrong with what they are doing, saying the intelligence gathering on ACT members is part of their mandate as a law enforcement agency.

“There is no provision in the Constitution or in the law that prohibits anybody, specifically the Philippine National Police or Armed Forces of the Philippines as a law enforcement agency, to gather intelligence information,” he said.

According to Albayalde, they would not have conducted the profiling were it not for Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison admitting ACT is one of their legal front organizations.

Albayalde was referring to a video uploaded on YouTube, showing a much younger Sison mentioning ACT as among the legal democratic forces in the country.

“It was announced by no less than Mr. Sison on YouTube that these are all their legal fronts. Not only ACT, but there are other groups as well, so who is lying here,” Albayalde said.

Albayalde allayed fears from critics who accused them of launching a crackdown.

He said ACT members have nothing to be afraid of as long as they are not committing illegal acts.

“If you are a law-abiding citizen, you don’t have to fear anything,” he said.

The ACT accused the PNP of sending personnel to schools to gather information about its members.

ACT said PNP had issued two memoranda directing its personnel to conduct an inventory of all public and private school teachers who are “members of or aligned with ACT.” The visits send a “chilling effect” on teachers, the group added. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo maintained it is not the policy of the government to conduct surveillance on teachers. 

Panelo also claimed the government was not behind the “red tagging” of other groups, such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Last week, three Manila-based tabloids published stories claiming the NUJP has ties with communist rebels. The reports quoted an alleged former rebel as saying that communist rebels are running the NUJP, which has about 500 members. 

A day after the tabloids published the story, the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) came up with an article about a group of former rebels that wanted to know whether NUJP is a legal front of the rebels. 

NUJP said the PNA article had confirmed suspicions that the government is behind the “nefarious” effort to link its members with rebels. The group also claimed that the red tagging is an orchestrated effort to silence journalists. 

Panelo yesterday called the NUJP “paranoid.” 

“Perhaps they are just paranoid. Wala (none), there is no such thing. PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) will not do that. (The) PNP does not do that also,” Panelo said. 

Panelo echoed Albayalde’s statements in saying profiling is part of intelligence work of the police and there is nothing wrong with it. 

“If you are not doing anything, they don’t have to worry,” the spokesman said.    – Alexis Romero

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