By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed readiness to face the petition for prohibition case filed by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) filed before the Court of Appeals (CA).
In welcoming the charges, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año insisted the PNP has done nothing wrong contrary to the group’s charges that their rights were violated when the police supposedly conducted the profiling of some of its members.
He asserted the allegations of a police crackdown on ACT was “absolutely devoid of basis or evidence and was merely a propaganda ploy to earn precious media mileage ahead of the party-list mid-term elections in May’’.
In seeking judicial redress, ACT has cited alleged violations of their members’ right to association, right to assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances, freedom of expression and most especially their members’ right to privacy.
Año noted “we must be reminded that intelligence gathering is a task routinely done by law enforcement officers all over the world as part of their mandate and it was Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison himself who identified the front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF (New People’s Army-National Democratic Front)’’.
He emphasized the PNP will be guilty of dereliction of duty and negligence if it were to do nothing about Sison’s admission that was making the rounds of social media.
With this surrounding circumstances, Año asserted the, as stated by the Supreme Court in several of its decisions, “that the right to privacy is not absolute and may nevertheless succumb to an overriding state interest deemed legitimate and compelling’’.
“With President Duterte vowing to put an end to the communist armed conflict fueled by an irrelevant and politically and intellectually bankrupt ideology that has already claimed countless lives and property, the DILG and PNP shall continue to religiously fulfill its duty to maintain peace and order and to take all necessary steps to ensure public safety within the bounds of law,’’ Año said.
Asserting that teacher’s rights were being violated, ACT asked the CA to nullify all existing PNP directives to profile its membership and order the prohibition of the conduct of all operations that harass its leaders and members.
“This is just a first step of a host of legal actions that we will undertake against the illegal profiling, intimidation and harassment that the PNP carries out against us teachers. The profiling operations are evidently illegal as they violate our constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free expression, association and privacy, as well as pertinent laws,” declared Joselyn Martinez, chairperson of ACT Philippines.
ACT included PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, Police Intelligence Director Gregorio Pimentel, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Ano, as well as 10 police regional directors of Cordillera Administrative Region, National Capital Region, Regions I, III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, X and XIII as respondents in the case.
The Petition for Prohibition with Urgent Prayer for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction cited first-hand accounts of ACT leaders and members who were victims of illegal profiling, person-specific surveillance and harassments perpetrated by police and military officers in the Cordillera Administrative Region, National Capital Region, Regions I, III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, X and XIII, as well as death threats issued against leaders at the height of the profiling issue.
Petitioners of the case included the ACT Philippines, ACT National Capital Region Union, ACT Region III Union and the Manila Public School Teachers Association. They are joined by their legal counsels from the National Union of People’s Lawyers.
Read more: Teachers go to court to fight PNP profiling