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ACT: Teachers not criminals or terrorists

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA — Teachers are not enemies of the state who sow crime and terror to bring down the government, a coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in Southern Tagalog said on Thursday.

“Teachers are not criminals or terrorists,” said Alexander Joshua Villalon, coordinator of the Division of Cabuyao City, as he condemned the profiling of ACT members by the Philippine National Police at a press conference at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) campus here.

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The ACT Region IV-A Union is a legal organization recognized by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Education, he said.

In a statement, the group said it documented several profiling incidents in Rizal, Quezon and Laguna provinces involving school visits by policemen to inquire about certain ACT members.

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“This kind of intimidation should not be done to teachers or to any sector,” Villalon said.

Despite these, the group said “no form of harassment and repression can possibly stop the organization from expanding and establishing strongholds in different schools nationwide, especially in time of economic crises.”

Activist group

“ACT is known for being an activist group,” said Maricel Herrera, secretary of the ACT Region IV-A Union.

“We do not understand why the PNP thinks that if you are an activist and if you are fighting for your rights, you are a member of a leftist group like the NPA. Everything that ACT Region IV-A does is in accordance with the law,” Herrera added.

In a recent Inquirer report, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said the profiling of teachers was part of police efforts to end the communist insurgency.

But ACT insists that the group does not serve as a front for the Communist Party of the Philippines or its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

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‘A big joke’

“If we are infiltrated by the CPP-NPA, then most probably we are not here,” Villalon said.

“We are teachers who are teaching students from elementary to college. This is a big joke,” he added.

After the press conference, the ACT contingent proceeded to an area near the main gate of the UPLB campus and held up banners to protest the profiling of ACT members.

But Albayalde on Thursday said that his men had not violated any law in tracking the movements of ACT members.

At a press conference in Camp Crame, Albayalde said: “These are not spying. These are merely intelligence gathering [operations].”

“There is no provision in the Constitution or in the law that prohibits anybody, specifically the PNP or the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as a law enforcement agency, [from gathering] intelligence information,” he added.

Albayalde explained that intelligence gathering was inherent in the PNP’s mandate, particularly in operations against persons of interest and suspects.

He clarified that not all 2,000 members of the ACT were subjects of “intelligence gathering” operations.

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