By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A teachers group on Wednesday clinched the support of some senatorial candidates in the upcoming May midterm elections by asking them to sign a covenant containing the education sector agenda.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) inked an education sector agenda with poll bets Atty. Neri Colmenares, Sen. Grace Poe, Sen. Bam Aquino, Sen. JV Ejercito, Atty. Chel Diokno, and Atty. Erin Tañada to “prioritize the legislation of salary increase and benefits for education workers and higher education budget when elected.”
Issuing a statement, ACT said that candidate – in person or through their representatives – also committed “to safeguard the rights of the education sector amidst attacks from state security forces as well as to push for a review of the K to 12 program” and “pledged to endeavor in the promotion of human rights, peace, democracy, development, and sovereignty.”
“The relevance of elections lies on the opportunity for change that it presents,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez. “We are happy to have made partners with future lawmakers who share our commitment to uphold the rights and welfare of the education sector, and the rest of the Filipino people,” she added.
The covenant signing was held in during the launch “SWELDO” in the University of the Philippines- Diliman. The “SWELDO” is education sector agenda which represents the teachers’ demands for substantial pay hike, better welfare and benefits, free and quality education and other social services, respect for labor rights and promotion of lasting peace, democracy and pro-people development, and ownership and sovereignty.
“We have sought the support of a number of candidates based on their track record in upholding the education sector’s causes,” Martinez said. She noted that ACT has a “long history of collaboration” with Colmenares ever since he was a partylist representative in Congress where he “consistently advocated for the economic and political rights of education workers even outside the legislature.”
ACT, Martinez added, also has a “vibrant cooperation” with Senators Poe, Aquino, and Ejercito in the current Congress “where we vigorously lobbied for various education issues.” Diokno and Tañada, she explained, also “proved their high regard for education workers when they stepped forward to defend teachers in the midst of the PNP [Philippine National Police] profiling issue.”
Martinez said that the “solidarity established” during the event “speaks volumes on the justness of education workers’ demands and is a product of the sector’s relentless exposition of their plight and uncompromising struggle for decent wages, better benefits, and social justice.”
“With more people coming to work together, we stand a very good chance at building a better future for the Filipino people,” Martinez said. “And we shall continue to strive for more unities in our fight for a just, democratic, and peaceful society,” she added.
ACT’s education agenda launch and ceremonial pledge of commitment with electoral candidates were witnessed by leaders from several teachers’ and education workers’ federations and unions such as ACT-NCR Union, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA), Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA), Caloocan Public Elementary and Secondary Teachers Federation (CPESTF), All U.P. Workers Alliance, among others.
The participants also vouched to hold watch over the realization of the commitments that were signed during the event.