‘We are teachers, not terrorists’: ACT asserts legality, legitimacy; slams DepEd’s tolerating ‘red-tagging’

Published February 22, 2021, 1:01 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Instead of giving them protection, a union of teachers accused the Department of Education (DepEd) of “betraying” its own personnel after accommodating an activity which “blatantly attacks” their welfare and right to unionize.


Following the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC)-sponsored orientation for Pasig City public school teachers last week, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers National Capital Region (ACT NCR) Union held a picket protest in front of the Department of Education NCR’s (DepEd-NCR)office on Monday, Feb. 22, to “vehemently condemn” the said move of the agency.

“What DepEd needs to do is to listen to our teachers’ woes, and not be an instrument of red-tagging and harassment,” said ACT NCR Union President Vladimer Quetua. “They are there to protect teachers’ welfare, not to threaten and harass our teachers,” he added.

Quetua asserted the “legality and legitimacy” of ACT-NCR union, citing that the formation has been the sole and exclusive negotiating agent of NCR teachers since 2013 and is now on the implementation of its second collective negotiations agreement (CNA) with DepEd NCR.

“It is an act of bad faith and unfair labor practice for a negotiating partner to promote the dissemination of blatant lies that seeks to vilify the union and, in effect, impede teachers from exercising their right to association,” Quetua said.

ACT said that during the webinar for Pasig City public school teachers, speakers from NTF-ELCAC “openly red-tagged” ACT as one of the legal front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The group also lamented that its logo and photos of its members were shown in its presentation. “As proof to its claim, the NTF-ELCAC presented a video of Prof. Jose Maria Sison in the 1980s that simply enumerated the ‘legal democratic forces in the country’,” ACT said.

Quetua condemned DepEd’s participation in the activity and that such an attack is a form of “harassment and violates” teachers’ right to unionize. He added that this also puts teachers in a “vulnerable position” – especially now when the need to assert their rights is greater.

“Teachers have been clamoring for the grant and release of benefits and salary increases for months, but all we get is a slow and tight-lipped response in return,” Queta said.

ACT noted when it comes to teachers’ demand, DepEd is very slow to respond but when it comes to red-tagging, the agency was quite responsive.

“We urge the agency to reconsider and get their priorities straight based on what our teachers need the most—their overdue benefits, salary upgrading, and the government’s action to ensure safe and quality blended learning,” Quetua added.

Instead of red-tagging, Quetua said that what teachers need the most is the grant of the Performance-based Bonus 2019 (PBB 2019), the P10,000 Service Recognition Incentive 2020 (SRI 2020), P1,500 monthly internet allowance, and the promised salary increases.

ACT also criticized the implementation of the Results-based Performance Management System (RPMS) and the Learning Delivery Modalities (LDM) that add burden to teachers’ workload.

Quetua urged the DepEd NCR to comply with its commitment in the CNA to fully recognize and respect the teacher’s right to unionize. The group also urged the agency to cancel all scheduled NTF-ELCAC orientations for other divisions in the next days and months. “We are not taking this sitting down,” he ended.