A federation of teachers criticized the Department of Education (DepEd) and accused its officials for “gaslighting” the group after claiming that the ongoing inventory of their members is part of “standard” requirements for legitimate organizations to be recognized.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in a statement issued Tuesday, April 20, argued that it is registered and sole and exclusive negotiating agent (SENA)-holding unions are already recognized by law.
This, the group said, reveals the inconsistencies in DepEd’s defenses as mere “cover up” to the true motive behind the move. “Shame on DepEd for this obvious attempt to gaslight us,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.
“They know full well the standing of our unions as we have dutifully submitted all requirements to relevant agencies, which was precisely how we gained the status of being a registered union in 11 regions and the sole and exclusive negotiating agent in the other five,” Basilio added.
Basilio also noted that DepEd and ACT have worked together as “union and employer” before the former “stopped talking to us” – even amidst multiple attacks against its rank.
“Enough with the lies and the smokescreen, DepEd,” Basilio said. “Recant the order and face us in a dialogue, answer our mounting concerns with distance learning and these attacks on our unions,” he added.
Meanwhile, the group also accused the Duterte government – through its National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) – has been launching a witch-hunt in the country “targeting critical voices of dissent like our unions.”
Despite this, Basilio maintained that ACT will to “continue speaking up” because the “welfare of our teachers is on the line, the right of our students to quality education is at stake.”
Over the weekend, ACT and another group, Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), decried DepEd’s directive to its local officials to make an inventory of their members. They condemned the move – noting that it sends a chilling effect on their members.
However, in a televised briefing on April 19, Education Secretary Leonor Briones maintained that there is nothing irregular about the directive – noting that it is a “standard” procedure for legitimate organizations such as ACT and TDC.
DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan assured that there will be “no individual profiling” to be conducted on the members of the two groups. He also noted that the individual data and information of the officials and members of ACT and TDC will be “all part of the official records that we keep in relation to their employment” with the DepEd.