MANILA — A professor from the University of the Philippines (UP) flagged Tuesday irregularities made by police officers who arrested her for allegedly violating the Social Security Act of 2018, a charge that she described as "politically motivated."
Melania Flores, a faculty member at the UP Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan and former president of the All UP Academic Employees Union, was arrested on Monday from her home inside the UP campus in Quezon City by policemen who reportedly posed as personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Flores said she was arrested for allegedly violating Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, specifically for failing to remit the Social Security System (SSS) contributions of a former househelp.
The case was filed by the SSS, according to Flores.
The Quezon City Police District said the arrest warrant against Flores was issued by QC RTC Branch 230 Judge Maria Gilda Loja Pangalinan, with recommended bail of P72,000.
But the educator-unionist said she was not aware of the charges, nor did she receive any subpoena supposedly for her to attend any hearing.
In a separate interview on ANC's Dateline Philippines, Flores said her household helper left them in 2013, and she had relayed this to the SSS.
The arresting officers also violated a 1992 agreement between UP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which requires law enforcers to coordinate with the university administration before conducting any operation on campus, Flores said.
"Malinaw na maraming violation - paglabag doon sa UP-DILG agreement noong 1992 at 'yong due process sa akin. Ni hindi ko nga alam na may kaso ako," said Flores, who is currently out on bail.
(It's clear that there were many violations - violation of the UP-DILG agreement from 1992 and due process. I was not even aware that there was a case against me.)
Flores claimed that the officers also showed her a list of other people that they were planning to take into custody, leading her to believe that her arrest was "politically motivated" and an attack on union leaders.
The Quezon City Police District has not commented on the issue as of writing.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers slammed what it described as the "weaponizing" of the SSS Law to persecute unionists.
"The SSS, acting on its own without any complaint from a private person, singling out Dr. Flores for a case which has no basis is clearly an act of using the law to harass, intimidate and violate the rights of our union leaders," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in a statement.
"This is bringing the desperate attacks against unions to a new disgraceful level," Basilio added. — With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News
education, higher education, Melania Flores, University of the Philippines, Quezon City Police District, arrest, UP-DILG Accord, SSS, Social Security Law, Social Security Act of 2018, Republic Act 11199, RA 11199, Quezon City Police