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ACT party-list seeks House inquiry on alleged police profiling of UP employees in Iloilo

/ 02:51 PM July 16, 2019

ILOILO CITY –– The ACT Teachers party-list group on Tuesday filed a proposed House resolution seeking a congressional inquiry into alleged police profiling of members of the University of the Philippines (UP) employees in Iloilo.

The three-page proposed resolution also condemns the “intelligence monitoring” on members of the Iloilo chapter of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU).

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“We filed House Resolution 65 to urge Congress to investigate and condemn the profiling, harassment, and threats against government workers in the education sector,” ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro Castro said in a statement.

“The profiling of teachers and professors who are union leaders and members must end. Members and leaders of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Union and the All U.P. Academic Employees Union have been in the forefront when it comes to the salaries, benefits, rights, regularization, and tenure of public school teachers and U.P. employees and faculty. They are not criminals that could be subjected to profiling and harassment by the police,” she said.

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‘Harassment’

The union and student groups at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) have denounced as “harassment” a request of Major Johnny Tumbambing, acting chief of the police station of Miag-ag town in Iloilo, to UPV Chancellor Ricardo Babaran to provide information on the union members.

UPV’s main campus is in Miag-ao town, about 42 kilometers south of Iloilo City. It also has campuses in Iloilo City and Tacloban City.

“Such a request reads malicious, spells reproachable, and conveys a ‘chilling effect’ to the … researchers, extension, and professional staff and faculty members composing the union,” the AUPAEU Iloilo chapter said in a statement.

Request

Tumambing, in his letter to Babaran dated June 25, requested for assistance of the UPV administration for information regarding the union members.

He said their “higher headquarters” directed the police station to gather the information which he was needed for their “reference.”

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But the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Western Visayas denied that there was a directive to gather information on the union members.

“There is no order for that and based on the explanation of Major Tumambing, it appears that the letter was misinterpreted,” Lt. Col. Joem Malong, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-6, told the INQUIRER.

Malong said Tumambing had explained that the request was made for community relation activities of the police station.

“There was no malice intended. It was intended for coordination purposes,” Malong said.

Data privacy law

Babaran denied Tumambing’s request citing the data privacy law. He also asserted the rights and freedom of the academic community.

“UP Visayas is a free space for divergent ideas where students, faculty, and staff can easily gather and discuss issues all in the name of academic freedom. UPV is responsible for the safety of all its constituents inside the campus,” Babaran said in a statement.

“As part of the national university, UP Visayas will always honor, protect and promote the professional rights and welfare of its academic and non-academic personnel,” he said.

The union stressed that the request was questionable.

“What else are these all about but the prevailing pattern of harassment, intimidation, and silencing of groups that are principled, public, and vocal on societal issues of the day,” according to a union statement.

“Under (the) current climate of impunity when profiling is weaponized, physical browbeating is normalized, and political ‘tokhang’ is regularized, the Academic Union strongly denounces this harassment,” it said.

‘Sinister act’

It said the data gathering on union members is “a sinister act” that violates laws and the Bill of Rights in the Philippine Constitution.

The UPV University Student Council has also condemned the request.

“The (AUPAEU) has been steadfast in its call for better benefits and rights for all workers and laborers, especially in the university, and will continue to do so regardless of any attempt by the (Duterte) administration to silence their movement,” it said in a statement.

Bishop’s support

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza also threw support for the union members.

“In our current state of affairs when the climate of anxiety and fear prevails, the strange request of (Tumambing) has the effect of harassment by profiling. To harass by profiling the officers and members of the (union) is unfair and unjust, an act against the Spirit of the Good News,” Alminaza said.

“Teachers and researchers, educators all, are precious people in our society. As nurturers of the young, they affectionately produce and transmit bodies of knowledge to those next in line after us. If they are wrongfully harmed, we will be deprived with intelligible past, meaningful present and promising future,” the prelate said.

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TAGS: ACT Teachers partylist group, congressional inquiry, data privacy law, House resolution, Iloilo, police profiling, University of the Philippines
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