Sara slams ACT for supporting transport strike

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Sara slams ACT for supporting transport strike
Vice President Sara Duterte graces the exhibit “Gahum sa Buwak” or “Flower Power,” which features Davao’s female floral artists at a mall in Pasig on March 1, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has slammed the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) for supporting what she described as a “communist-inspired” transport strike that has forced schools to revert to online classes this week.

“The transport strike is a painful interference in our efforts to provide solutions to the problems besetting our education system and will only exacerbate the learning hardships of our students,” Duterte said in a press statement released yesterday.

“ACT supporting this transport strike, and shamelessly harping twisted justifications for it, only betrays its true colors – that it is a group that does not really serve the interest of students and teachers,” she added.

Duterte said the Department of Education (DepEd) cannot afford any learning disruption due to the transport strike, especially as it is working on a learning recovery program following the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the basic education sector.

“ACT should know that a weeklong transport strike, at this critical point in our efforts to remedy learning losses, is a learning disruption,” Duterte said.

“But ACT couldn’t care less if our efforts are hampered or if we fail because – as a lover of the useless ideologies espoused by the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – ACT’s dream is for our children to remain uneducated and poor,” she added.

In response, all public schools shall implement both in-person and alternative delivery modes of learning, “whichever is convenient to the learners” during “this communist-inspired weeklong strike,” Duterte said.

“I challenge ACT to show its sincerity to the sector it is supposed to serve – the students, the teachers, and the entire Philippine education system – by working with local government units and other government agencies to ensure the convenience of learners during the transport strike instead of supporting it,” she added.

The ACT was quick to hit back, saying that Duterte should “quit hiding behind red-tagging, and face the concerns of teachers and learners.”

“It is shameful how DepEd Secretary VP Sara Duterte resorted to red-tagging the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines instead of addressing the valid concerns of teachers and students in light of the scheduled transportation strike,” the group said.

“ACT’s proposal to allow regional and division offices to cancel physical classes in areas that will be affected by transport strike is only practical and pro-active. Supporting the demands of our public utility vehicles against phaseout and for pro-people modernization is only just and compassionate,” it added.

In a separate statement, teachers group Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) also slammed Duterte for dismissing the valid concerns of PUV drivers and for red-tagging the ACT.

“If there is indeed a disruption in learning, it’s no other than the ineptness of DepEd to address the lack of educational spaces, internet infrastructure, and other kinds of financial and logistical support for all teachers, students, and educational workers,” read CONTEND’s statement.

“Duterte’s urgent condemnation of ACT, a union center of teachers, doesn’t match the speed of DepEd’s response to the worsening economic crisis for teachers everywhere,” it added.

The group maintained that the true problem of the country’s basic education system is that 90 percent of students are not proficient in basic literacies such as reading and writing and the lack of support and better compensation for public school teachers.

“We enjoin everyone, from our co-faculty to our students, to stand with jeepney drivers in their weeklong strike! Let’s assert transport rehabilitation and pro-people modernization instead of a profit-centered program!” the CONTEND added.

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