DepEd insists 'profiling' of progressive teachers for payroll, not an anti-insurgency move

James Relativo - Philstar.com
DepEd insists 'profiling' of progressive teachers for payroll, not an anti-insurgency move
Teachers from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers join the Labor Day protests, May 1, 2023
Released / Alliance of Concerned Teachers

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education defended its memorandum asking for the "complete list" of public educators affiliated with the progressive group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), saying the move is being done for the purposes of consolidating users of a payroll deduction system.

DepEd earlier directed all regional and division offices to identify the teachers belonging to ACT, a progressive group which Vice President Sara Duterte — also the secretary of Education — has been accused as supporters or members of communist rebel groups.

"The allegation that the memorandum was intended to profile the members of ACT Union as part of a supposed government anti-insurgency campaign is patently absurd, distorted, and followed no logic," the department 

"The sole purpose of consolidating the list of APDS availees, from various organizations in the regions, is to centralize, connect, update, and improve the Department’s Human Resource Systems, including the [Automatic Payroll Deduction System]."

The department said the request was publicly available, "proving" that it did not intend to target members of the teacher's union.

This comes amid alleged complaints from employees over inaccurate, questionable and unwarranted salary deductions for loan remittances and membership dues.

DepEd Spokesperson Michael Poa, in a separate statement, said that unions and organizations collect membership dues through the APDS.

"While a memorandum sought the list of ACT Union members, separate requests were also made for the list of members of other unions, organizations, and associations of teaching and non-teaching personnel availing of the APDS," they continued.

"There is simply no effort or intention to purposely target members of ACT Union."

Trade unionism as a private matter

Raymond Basilio of ACT, for his part, admitted that their members pay union dues to DepEd regional offices, where there is an existing Collective Negotiations Agreement with the concerned DepEd Regional Offices.

However, they claimed that asking for the identities of their members is an invalid move on the part of government.

"Union membership is totally private and knowing the recent cases of trade union rights violations in the country, this move will just cause fear to our members," Basilio said.

'Zeroing in on ACT'

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, in an interview with Philstar.com, claimed the DepEd is merely making excuses for its actions since it was clear they are being singled out.

She also questioned DepEd's claim that they also requested for the list of members of other unions, since the other groups were "not mentioned."

Castro on Friday said that the department's move is in violation of the Data Privacy Act and the right to freedom of association.

Duterte, who heads the DepEd, is also known as the co-vice chair of the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

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