Teachers' groups accuse DepEd of profiling their members

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2021 02:18 PM

DepEd has yet to comment on allegation

Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers hold a protest in front of the Department of Education headquarters in Pasig City on February 19, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Two teachers' groups accused the Department of Education of profiling their members, a move described by one of the organizations as "dubious" because of its unclear objectives.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC), in separate statements issued Saturday evening, said they received reports that DepEd's field units have been ordered to gather information about ACT and TDC members in their respective jurisdiction.

Both groups, which are often critical of the DepEd and its policies, said teachers were allegedly asked by the agency's local officials to answer an online survey that asked about their memberships in either ACT or TDC.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said the profiling was done "in bad faith" because the DepEd continued to ignore his group's requests for a dialogue despite being an accredited organization representing public school teachers.

"Since mid-2019, we've made several requests for dialogue with DepEd on various concerns in education and none have been approved despite our status as a duly recognized representative of public school teachers. And now this dubious move. Bakit at para saan? (Why and for what?)" Basilio said.

Screenshots provided by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) show an online survey, allegedly from the Department of Education, asking teachers about their membership in either ACT or the Teachers' Dignity Coalition.

Basilio said the move was "eerily reminiscent" of the police's profiling of ACT in 2019, "which preluded worse attacks on our members and on our very organization."

"DepEd has done nothing to protect us from these [attacks]," said Basilio, whose organization counts 200,000 education workers as its members.

He also noted that the DepEd was a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, whose members have accused ACT of conspiring with communist rebels.

Meanwhile, TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said his group's leadership instructed members to refrain from participating in the profiling "which has no clear objectives."

"This act of the DepEd management, which has caused alarm among our members, may be deemed at the very least a simple discourtesy and at the far extreme, a form of harassment," Basas said.

He reminded the department of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers and the 1987 Constitution, which guaranteed teachers' right to freely organize themselves without intrusion, interference or fear of reprisal from authorities.

He also advised the agency to get the TDC members' information directly from the group's officials.

The TDC has also been requesting dialogues with the DepEd since March 2020 "but none of those were granted," Basas said.

As of writing, the DepEd has yet to respond to the media's request for comment.

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