House urged to condemn DepEd’s 'profiling' of ACT members in payroll system

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
House urged to condemn DepEd�s 'profiling' of ACT members in payroll system
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers hold a protest rally in Mendiola, Manila in August 2022.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — A House resolution was filed on Friday urging lawmakers to condemn the recent move by the Department of Education to identify all public school teachers part of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers who make use of its payroll system.

House Resolution 1095, filed by Makabayan lawmakers, described DepEd's memorandum ordering the identification of ACT-affiliated teachers as a "profiling operation" that violates the "constitutionally guaranteed rights to free expression, association and privacy of public school teachers."

"DepEd's profiling operations against ACT and their members are highly alarming and a clear violation of their basic rights. The disclosure and processing of their personal information and sensitive personal information without their consent is a direct attack on their privacy and security," House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers) said.

Castro explained in a message sent to Philstar.com that if the memorandum was issued in consideration of ACT members’ union dues, it’s the regional formations of ACT that would process these deductions, not the Central Office. 

“ACT Philippines does not coordinate with the Central Office regarding the problems of the union, and then there will be a memo like this,” Castro said in Filipino. 

Castro added that the purpose of the order would be to “get the names of ACT union members for their red-tagging.”  

No purpose specified

The House resolution states that the lack of a declared purpose for the order, which was issued by DepEd Undersecretary for Operations Revsee Escobedo on June 14, makes the directive "politically motivated."  

DepEd’s internal memorandum directs all regional directors and division superintendents to compile a list of names of teachers who are part of the organization and are under DepEd’s automatic payroll deduction system. 

The memorandum did not cite a reason for the order, but a copy of the submission template obtained by Philstar.com requires offices to only provide the division, school, name and position of teachers deemed to be "ACT Union-affiliated."

DepEd Central Visayas has already requested a list of names of teachers part of ACT who are also under DepEd's automatic payroll deduction system, according to an earlier Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

The resolution also said that DepEd Region 7 and DepEd CARAGA Region have issued similar memoranda to comply with the order.

"ACT has been vocal in their advocacy for better working conditions, salaries, and benefits for teachers, and this profiling operation is a clear attempt to silence their voices and intimidate them from exercising their right to peaceful assembly and free speech," Castro said.

"We urge our fellow lawmakers to support House Resolution 1095 and send a strong message to DepEd that we will not tolerate any violation of our citizens' basic rights and freedoms," Castro added. 

Duterte's red-tagging

After DepEd held a press conference with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in April -- which DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte now co-chairs — ACT lodged a complaint before the International Labor Organization reporting the fresh wave of red-tagging remarks it has received from Duterte.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said in the same press conference that DepEd does not bar teachers from joining any organization, including ACT, but they will also "not condone teachers who will condone or engage in criminal activities."

In April, Duterte and ACT repeatedly traded barbs after the latter urged DepEd to hire around 30,000 teachers annually to shrink class sizes to a manageable level. Duterte dismissed this as an unrealistic and outdated suggestion, accusing the group instead of diverting the public's attention away from reported attacks by the New People's Army at a Masbate school.

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