Valenzuela gov't urged to probe alleged 'labor malpractices, repression' at PLV

By Minka Klaudia Tiangco 

The Valenzuela City government was told to investigate alleged labor malpractices and incidents of campus repression at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV).

In an open letter addressed to Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, nearly 284 students, teachers, and alumni of PLV insisted that there is a "systemic and serious" culture of repression in the university.

The statement was made after issues involving faculty members surfaced online. A former teacher at PLV claimed that their contract was not renewed after they made social media posts that are critical of the government.

Others claimed that the teachers, of which majority are contractual employees, do not receive their salaries on time, but they did not report it in fear of losing their jobs.

Members of the PLV community who wrote the open letter also alleged that school administrators "police thought." They said students and teachers who made social media posts against the government or spoke about the issues in the university were summoned to the Dean's or the President's Office, where they allegedly received reprimands and threats.

"These breaches of rights to fair working conditions, free speech, and press freedom are enabled primarily by school administrators who for a long time have treated the university as their dominion. Treating students as products instead of as active participants in their own learning, these officials contribute to the long-standing problems in our national educational system," the letter read.

"This academic pause brought about by the pandemic is an opportune time to make necessary reforms in favor of a democratic teaching-learning community and academic freedom," the group added.

Gatchalian, who is also chairman of the board at PLV, has since denied the allegations and invited those with concerns to meet him at his office Monday morning to discuss.

The Valenzuela City mayor also cited an incident where a teacher from PLV asked students to conduct field work in the middle of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). It is not yet clear whether the teacher he was referring was the same one who complained of their nonrenewal.

"All the issues raised in that letter are unfounded and without basis," Gatchalian said. "Facts and details count. Let's not muddle the issue. There is a difference between incompetence and freedom of speech."