Teachers’ groups expressed disappointment over the statement of the Department of Education (DepEd) reminding the public that there is “no single teacher organization” that officially and legally represents public school teachers.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines and the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC), in separate statements, called out DepEd for trying to “discredit” the legitimate concerns of teachers in the field especially at a time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued on July 6, the DepEd said that “there is no single teacher organization that legally represents our public school teachers” in reaction to “numerous claims from certain teacher organizations that they represent the views and opinions of public school teachers as a whole.”
For TDC, DepEd’s statement is divisive since it creates a gap between teachers groups and the agency when it comes to the pressing issues that confront the education system at a time of a pandemic.
The TDC said while DepEd did not name or mention any organization, its recent statement is “saddening” because it is speaking on behalf of the entire department. “Bakit umabot sa ganitong antas ng diskurso ang DepEd? Hindi ba maaaring kilalanin muna kung balido o lehitimo ang mga pahayag o mga usaping inilalabas ng ‘ilang organisasyon’ na tinutukoy bago patahimikin gamit ang teknikalidad ng batas? “(Why did DepEd reach this level of discourse? Is it not possible to determine first whether the statements or issues raised by ‘certain organizations’ are valid or legitimate before being silenced using the technicality of the law?) asked TDC Secretary General Emmalyn Policarpio.
Citing Executive Order No. 180, dated June 1, 1987 stating that employees can “form, join or assist employees’ organizations of their own choosing for the furtherance and protection of their interests,” DepEd stressed that currently, there is/are no group/s that can claim that they were “chosen by majority of the members of the organization.”
The TDC argued that because of the existing policies of the Public Sector Labor Management Council (PSLMC) which limits the registration of members per region, “there will be no single, national organization of teachers.”
The TDC pointed out that the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670) cites that consultation with teachers organizations with members nationwide should be recognized. In Section 29 or “National Teacher’s Organizations,” the group noted that “national teachers’ organizations shall be consulted in the formulation of national educational policies and professional standards, and in the formulation of national policies governing the social security of the teachers.”
For ACT Philippines, DepEd’s recent statement is an attempt to discredit the legality and representation of teachers.
ACT lamented that instead of listening and acting on grievances of teachers related to the school opening and the implementation of its Learning Continuity Plan (LCP), DepEd chose to refute the legality and representation of organizations.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said that “it is not true that” there is no legal organization that represents teachers, citing various accreditation certificates from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued to its various chapters nationwide including ACT NCR Union, ACT Region V Union, ACT Region VI Union, ACT Region VII Union, at ACT Region XI Union which gave them the status to be the “Sole and Exclusive Negotiating Agent” for public school teachers in the said regions. Registration certificates from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and CSC were also issued to ACT unions in 10 more regions.