No campaigning for ACT members
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Like other government employees, public school teachers who belong to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) are prohibited from actively campaigning in the upcoming midterm elections.

“We are prohibited from actively campaigning for a candidate or party,” ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio told The STAR on Tuesday.

“But the law states that we may express our support for a party or candidate and discuss issues related to elections,” he added.

Basilio issued the statement amid a complaint filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking the disqualification of ACT teacher-members from serving as board of election inspectors (BEI).

The complaint alleged that the teachers are partisan due to their supposed affiliation with the ACT Teachers party-list.

The two organizations, however, are different, according to Basilio.

“ACT is composed of teachers’ unions, federations, teachers’ organizations. ACT Teachers party-list is a party-list group of teachers and education advocates,” he said.

“Yes, there could be overlap in membership but we do operate separately. We do have our own officers independent from that of the party-list,” he added.

Basilio earlier asked the Comelec to allow their members to serve in the upcoming elections like in previous polls.

He urged the poll body to dismiss the petition, describing it as tainted with malice and devoid of factual and legal basis.

 “The Alliance of Concerned Teachers is a non-stock, non-profit organization of educators duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission since its founding in 1982, long before the country adopted Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act of 1995,” he said.

Members of the alliance include ACT unions of public school teachers duly registered with the Department of Labor and Employment and the Civil Service Commission in 15 out of 17 regions in the country.

“Nowhere it can be found in any law and procedure governing elections, including the Election Service Reform Act and its implementing rules and regulations, as well as rule of the Comelec, a provision allowing for the wholesale disqualification or the generalized way of questioning qualifications of BEIs, whether public school teacher or not,” he added.

“All DepEd officials (including third level officials), teaching and non-teaching personnel, are prohibited from engaging in any electioneering or partisan political activity, subject to exclusion (identified by the Civil Service Commission),” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a department order.

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