Oposisyon Koalisyon (OK) senatorial candidate and former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada on Tuesday branded as “unfair” the military’s red-tagging of teachers aligned with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
“It is also unfair for teachers, who are revered as models of students, to be labelled as communist sympathizers or front without solid basis,” Tañada said in a statement.
The former lawmaker’s remarks came after ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio revealed that intelligence operations, where police profiled teachers, were conducted in several Metro Manila schools.
On Monday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said he has relieved the intelligence officers from Manila Police District’s Station 3, Quezon City Police District’s (QCPD) Station 6, and the Zambales police’s intelligence unit chief.
He, likewise, denied ordering such operations, although he justified the necessity of profiling members belonging to supposed “front organizations” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“As I’ve said, I did not specifically order gathering of information on ACT members. But I will be extremely surprised if our intelligence community has not done so on ACT and other front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines identified by Jose Ma. Sison,” Albayalde said in a statement.
“It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens and its interests against the enemies of the state (Communist Terrorist Groups or CPP/NPA) and its allies or front organizations enumerated by Jose Ma. Sison such as Bayan, KMU, KMP, LFS, Gabriela, ACT, Kadena, etc.,” he added.
According to Tañada, he is concerned with the police’s measures, which can disrupt the students’ learning process.
“I express grave concern over reports that surveillance activities are being conducted against members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in public and private schools,” Tañada said.
“Schools are sanctuaries of learning and development of students. The presence of state agents from the police or the military will cause panic and alarm among the students and will be disruptive to their studies,” he explained.
He also called on the government and the schools’ management involved to investigate these intelligence-gathering activities and uphold the rights of faculty members as well as its students.
“We call on the administration of these concerned schools and educational institutions to look into this matter seriously and take a stand to protect the rights of their teachers and students,” the senatorial candidate said.
Even before he was elected into office, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly claimed that he is the first leftist leader of the country — saying that he is a socialist and not a communist.
Duterte even met with known left-leaning group leaders, and appointed known activists like former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and Anti-Poverty Secretary Liza Maza as part of his cabinet.
However, since the skirmishes between government forces and communist rebels continue to erupt, the President has fired all cabinet secretaries and undersecretaries belonging to left wings.