ACT stressses DepEd memo compromises safety, privacy of teachers

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
ACT stressses DepEd memo compromises safety, privacy of teachers
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers hold a protest rally in Mendiola in Manila in August 2022.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers condemned Sunday the memorandum ordering a list of educators affiliated with the country’s largest teachers’ group, stressing this infringes on members’ basic rights and freedoms.

The Department of Education’s operations office issued a memorandum on June 14, directing all regional and division offices to submit a list of ACT-affiliated public school teachers who are part of the agency’s Automatic Payroll Deduction System. The department said the memorandum is not meant for profiling and that DepEd is preparing similar lists of members of other teachers' groups.

“Such acts and measures seek to stigmatize ACT’s work, repress its advocacies, and restrict civic space from teachers and education workers who are critical of the government,” ACT said in a statement. 

ACT added it “has all the reasons to ring the alarm for there is no guarantee that such documents will not be used against ACT and its members knowing that the current Secretary and Vice President [Sara] Duterte is [engaged in] relentless and malicious red-tagging of ACT.”

Duterte previously accused ACT of supporting the communist insurgency. This and Duterte’s other remarks linking ACT with communist rebels prompted the group to ask the International Labor Organization to intervene. 

In a statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said the DepEd memorandum violates the members' rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech or expression. NUPL added this violates their constitutional right to privacy. 

“The DepEd memo will legitimize the processing of personal information and sensitive personal information in the hands of DepEd as the personal information controller, without the teachers’ consent, to evaluate certain aspects of their lives towards the prediction of their personal preferences, interests, behavior, location, or movements,” it said. 

Deped: Memo not intended to profile ACT members

This was the third time that a profiling of ACT members was conducted, the group said. In December 2018, an internal memorandum by the Philippine National Police’s Intelligence Directorate ordered a list of ACT members from both private and public schools. 

This was followed by an internal instruction from the DepEd asking for a list of ACT members in 2021. 

“We wish to hear good news about the over-delayed release of teachers’ Performance-Based Bonus (PBB), not profiling,” ACT said.

The education department, however, said Saturday the memo was not intended to profile ACT members, calling the allegation “patently absurd, distorted, and followed no logic.” 

“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 APDS,” the DepEd said. 

In response, ACT said that its accredited regional unions that have APDS “religiously” update their members’ status, and that the DepEd does not need a list of the organizations’ members as it approves and implements the APDS every month. 

“As with DepEd’s justification that the memorandum was to address employees’ complaints of wrong deductions of monthly membership dues, this can be simply be resolved by fixing their record mechanisms without compromising the privacy and safety of all other employees,” ACT said. 

The DepEd also issued separate memoranda seeking lists of teachers who are part of the Teachers' Dignity Coalition and the DepEd’s Teachers’ Union.

“The DepEd Teachers’ Union welcomes the memo because it promotes the spirit of ‘transparency’, ‘accountability’, and ‘good governance’,” DTU said in Filipino. 


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