Groups warn of ‘chilling effect’ of DILG’s terrorist-tagging memo

Published March 16, 2021, 3:12 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Teachers and other members of two groups have expressed concern that the memorandum issued by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will put their safety – and lives – in danger.

(FACEBOOK/MANILA BULLETIN)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) in a virtual press conference on Tuesday, March 16, said that the memorandum dated March 10 signed by Assistant Secretary for Public and Security Alexander Macario endangers their members’ lives and safety.

“This has a chilling effect on our members – it is creating a very big problem to our leaders and our groups,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in Filipino.

The said DILG memo tagged ACT and COURAGE as a “known Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) front organization” and directed regional directors “initiate an investigation” on the supposed infiltration of these CTG.

However, ACT and COURAGE vehemently denied the accusation of DILG and stressed that the said memo “makes us open targets of worse state attacks.”

Teacher Vyne Tesorero of ACT NCR – Pasig noted that the said allegations against ACT as a CTG is baseless. “For the longest time, we have been working with DepEd and local executives for the benefit of teachers to address their – and education’s – issues and concerns,” she said in Filipino.

Since the release of Duterte’s Executive Order 70 in 2018, ACT alleged that the government has “relentlessly attacked our organization—from terror-tagging our organization without a modicum of proof, to illegally profiling our members, to harassing our leaders with and arresting them on trumped up charges and planted evidence.”

Despite all these, ACT said that “none proved to be successful in silencing our legitimate dissent” – especially as the education crisis exponentially worsened amid the government’s failure to resolve the pandemic that forced us into the inaccessible and ineffective distance learning.

Contrary to how DILG painted the group, ACT maintained that it has been at the forefront of the fight for safe, accessible, and quality education and the fight for a meaningful salary increase and benefits for education workers, both in the public and private sector.

“What qualifies us as ‘terrorists’ in the eyes of the Duterte government – only they can answer. If anything, it says more about the regime’s repressive, undemocratic, in fact, terroristic character than ours,” ACT said.

Given this, both groups are demanding for the immediate recall of the said DILG memorandum.

They are also calling for an investigation to be launched on those behind the directive – where ACT and COURAGE – was presumably “identified without basis” as a CTG front.

 
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