By Daniel Llanto i FilAm Star Correspondent
Members of the progressive Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) held a mass rally outside the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame to condemn the alleged profiling and surveillance of its members with plans to later file a case against the PNP for this form of police intimidation and harassment.
The teachers’ group cited memoranda ordering police units to create an inventory of all teachers who are members or aligned with the organization. The group believed that these orders may have come from the national leadership as similar cases were reported in Manila, Malabon, Las Pinas, Zambales, Bulacan, Rizal, Mindoro, Sorsogon and Agusan Del Sur.
ACT Secretary Gen. Raymond Basilio said such police profiling is “illegal and unmistakably wrong” as it violates the members’ rights to privacy, free expression and self-organization.
Basilio likened the PNP’s memoranda to the ‘tokhang’ list of alleged drug personalities.
“The singling out of ACT members in PNP’s profiling is enough cause for alarm, especially with the state’s track record of violent suppression of dissent. We cannot sit idly by as PNP sows terror in our schools and communities,” Basilio said in a statement.
PNP Chief Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde practically admitted that there was such a memo when he ordered the relief of three intelligence officers over the leak of the memo mandating a profiling and surveillance of the members of ACT after the group complained.
Even the Department of Education (DepEd) turned out to be involved. ACT said there was a DepEd memo ostensibly coming from Education Sec. Leonor Briones directing public and private elementary and secondary school heads to submit the names of teachers who are members of ACT.
Dismissed by Albayalde over the supposed leak of the covert memo were the intelligence chiefs of the Manila Police District Station 3, Quezon City Police District Station 6 and the provincial intelligence branch of the Zambales police.
Albayalde said the memo leak has caused fear among members of ACT who feel they are being intimidated by the police. He said the intelligence officers, by the nature of their job, should have done their work discreetly.
“Anyone, when they realize they’re being profiled by the police, there is that feeling always,” the PNP chief said. Albayalde added that he did not sign any document ordering intelligence officers to conduct an inventory of ACT members.
But he did not deny that the order came from a PNP unit.
“The different directorates of the PNP can always issue memorandum, especially if it falls under their jurisdiction,” he said. Albayalde assured ACT members there is no cause for alarm if they have not committed any wrongdoing.
He said the surveillance order may have stemmed from the declaration of communist leader Jose Ma. Sison that ACT is one of their front organizations.
The same assurance was made by Malacañang. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said ACT members should not be afraid of police surveillance if they are not doing anything unlawful.
“It’s the job of the PNP to monitor all groups. If you’re not doing anything wrong, why should you be afraid?” Panelo said.
ACT said being identified as a leftist is not a crime nor does it make one a rebel. In its statement, ACT stressed that it is a “legitimate teachers’ organization with a long history of service to professional teachers, education support personnel, and the Filipino people in general.”
“ACT unions hold the distinction of being the Sole and Exclusive Negotiating Agent for public school teachers in Regions V, VII, and XI and in NCR; and with registered and accredited unions from the rest of the regions, constantly participating in dialogues and negotiations with DepEd and school officials for the advancement of teachers’ welfare as well as the betterment of the country’s basic education system,” it said.
“Rather than waste its time on intimidating and harassing legitimate teachers’ organizations, the PNP should instead focus on apprehending big drug lords, plunderers, human rights violators, etc.,” it added.