VP Duterte’s ‘red-tagging’ of teacher group reported to ILO

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
VP Duterte�s �red-tagging� of teacher group reported to ILO
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers stage a protest on April 3, 2023 in front of the Department of Education to call attention to the delayed release of their benefits and low compensation amid a "hefty" workload.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has lodged a complaint before the International Labor Organization reporting the fresh wave of red-tagging remarks that it has received from Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said on Thursday that they included in their letter to the ILO statements made by the Department of Education (DepEd) in March, alleging they had ties to communist insurgency groups – remarks they say have violated their right to free association.

“Red-tagging our legal and legitimate unions is a violation of the freedom of association and poses grave dangers to the life of our organization and leaders,” Basilio said. 

Received by ILO regional director Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, ACT’s complaint also included DepEd’s joint press conference with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on April 4, which was “solely dedicated to incriminate ACT and its leaders to armed revolution,” Basilio said.

Duterte’s statements are also proof that the government is not adhering to the recommendations forwarded by the ILO’s high-level tripartite mission to the Philippine government to address violations against freedom of association, Basilio said.  

Philstar.com has reached out to the DepEd public affairs unit for comment.

ILO’s four-day investigation on the state of labor rights in the Philippines in January found that red-tagging of labor unions has clouded workers in a “climate of impunity” where they cannot exercise their rights to organize and associate free of fear.

“The mindset linking parts of trade union movement to the insurgency without due process of law has wrongly linked trade union activity to law-breaking and overthrowing the state,” the ILO noted.

These findings formed part of ILO’s preliminary recommendation for the Philippine government to form a presidential body that would address grave threats faced by labor leaders and organizers.

Basilio said that rampant red-tagging has historically preceded attacks on unionists in recent years, such as illegal arrest, detention and extra-judicial killings.

“There is no other way to protect our right to free association but to push back and make accountable those who dare trample on it. We cannot give up our unions as it is our only recourse to assert our economic and political rights, especially in this time of grave economic crisis and state repression,” he added.

Basilio also said ACT will be elevating its concerns with other bodies in the next few days.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said during the department’s joint press conference with NTF-ELCAC on April 3 that they do not bar teachers from joining any organization, but they will also "not condone teachers who will condone or engage in criminal activities."

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