MANILA – Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide guidelines on the use of security cameras in schools amid reports of videos of teachers facing administrative complaints were posted online.
In a Senate hearing tackling the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, the lawmaker said there was a need for such guidelines so teachers would not be subjected to trial by publicity.
“More and more of our schools have CCTV (closed-circuit television) [cameras] and that's good. However, are there guidelines in the use of CCTVs that was released by DepEd?” he said.
“Because we don't want a situation wherein this type of CCTV videos will be released without any permission or without any reason whatsoever. These are very sensitive tapes,” he said.
Gatchalian was reacting to a concern raised by the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) that said the law “was not strictly being observed.”
Lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, managing director of COCOPEA, said he represented in November a teacher who was facing an administrative complaint but whose video was released to the media.
“The public school teacher who's already nearing retirement was subjected to public embarrassment and there was pressure for her to resign,” he said.
Estrada stressed that under Section 8 of Republic Act 4670 “no publicity shall be given to any disciplinary action being taken against a teacher during the pendency of his case.”
Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said they would revisit and update guidelines on the use of security cameras in schools.
“Ire-revisit po natin ang (We will revisit the) existing guidelines like Department Order No. 49 series of 2006,” he said, referring to the agency’s revised rules of procedure in administrative cases.
“Pati 'yung previous guidelines natin para sa gano'n matignan natin 'to (We will also check our previous guidelines) in light of Data Privacy Act, Child Protection Act, and so on po para ma-address din natin ang concerns na nire-raise ngayon (so we will be able to address the concern that was raised now),” he said.
Gatchalian said he was giving DepEd not later than January 2021 to provide the guidelines.
“We'll allow you to revisit and admittedly some of the guidelines might already be outdated, not incorporating data privacy, technologies like CCTV,” he said.
“What we don't want is trial by publicity or trial by Facebook. 'Pag in-upload ho ‘yan sa Facebook, wala na (If it’s already uploaded on Facebook, you’re done). Judgement has been rendered.”
DepEd shifted to distance learning starting Oct. 5 as in-person classes remain barred because of the continuing threat of COVID-19.