DepEd protects ACT members from PNP profiling
The Department of Education (DepEd) is set to issue a directive to regional offices not to release any information about the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) after the group raised the alarm over the profiling of its members by the Philippine National Police.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the education department was operating according to law, specifically the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
“Legally, we are not bound to give personal information as a public institution,” she told reporters.
“Personal information is covered by the Data Privacy Act. These requests will have to be evaluated by our central office,” Briones added.
DepEd officials, including Briones, met with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and ACT representatives separately on Tuesday to discuss the profiling of group members.
Leaked memorandums issued by the PNP caused an uproar among teachers and rights groups over the weekend.
The documents showed the PNP had ordered the inventory of teachers who are members of or aligned with ACT, the sole negotiating body for public school teachers in Metro Manila and several other regions.
Police officers have visited public elementary and high schools in Manila and in provinces such as Benguet, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Agusan del Sur to ask for a list of ACT members.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde on Tuesday said identifying members of the teachers’ group was part of the campaign to end the communist insurgency by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
Albayalde said the PNP wanted to identify teachers who support armed rebellion.
The DepEd was placed in hot water after the Schools Division Office (SDO) of Manila issued a letter that forwarded the PNP memo to school heads in the city.
But the DepEd said it did not receive any such request from the PNP.
It also said that the supposed letter from the SDO was not officially released, but was recalled by the director of DepEd-National Capital Region, following the order from the central office.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, also the DepEd spokesperson, said units of the department would be reminded that all interagency requests involving sensitive personal information should be referred to the central office for evaluation.
ACT national chair Joselyn Martinez welcomed the department’s position.
“We bank on DepEd’s promise that it will not endanger the beings of their own employees,” Martinez said in a statement.
She said ACT would remain vigilant for the sake of its members’ safety despite the assurance from the education department.
In Baguio, the city police have asked a school principal on Monday for an inventory of teachers affiliated with ACT, prompting the Cordillera police office to investigate.
A letter, delivered to Pinsao Elementary School by a police officer, justified the request as part of security preparations for this year’s elections.
“This has reference [to] the upcoming midterm election 2019. May [we] request your good office for an inventory of teachers in your school who are members of or aligned with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). Any information of data from your office will be treated confidential[ly],” the letter said.
Lists mean danger
ACT is also a party-list group and has two members in the House of Representatives.
The letter reached Jeanneatte Ribaya-Cawiding, ACT Cordillera coordinator, who said it put teachers in danger.
“Nothing is normal, regular or usual about government listing ACT members. Lists, under Mr. Duterte, mean danger — even death — for the listed,” she said.
The Cordillera police at Camp Dangwa traced the letter to Police Station 2 of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), said Supt. Pelita Tacio, Cordillera police information officer.
“As far as I know, there is no memorandum issued by [Police Regional Office Cordillera] to its personnel to check on ACT members,” Tacio said.
“We have asked the city director of BCPO to [get] the commander to explain why,” she said in a text message.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.