ACT to file suit with UN body in January
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s largest group of public school teachers will file a complaint in the United Nations Human Rights Committee in January, their most high-profile form of protest yet against what they decried as increasingly dire conditions for teachers in the country.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) told the Inquirer the complaint would be hinged on at least five grounds: police profiling and surveillance, state threats and intimidation, Red-tagging and cyberbullying, trumped-up charges and incarceration, and attempted extrajudicial killings.
ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said on Sunday that he hoped the complaint would prompt the 18-member committee to conduct an investigation, urge government bodies to cooperate and ultimately issue a set of recommendations.
“If the government doesn’t follow these recommendations, the worst that can happen is sanctions will then be imposed,” Basilio said.
The complaint comes as the group has grown exasperated with local law enforcement, which ACT has accused of failing to properly investigate rising and increasingly violent attacks on teachers.
The Philippine National Police are also the primary subject of some of these complaints, as well. The year began with explosive allegations, later confirmed by the former PNP chief, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, that sensitive information was being collected in a nationwide campaign against the group.
Recently, Basilio claimed receiving several death threats, including one from a caller who had identified himself as a military official from the Davao region. ACT union leadership in Central Luzon, Bicol and Caraga regions have reported similar threats and government surveillance.
The group, which has over 200,000 members, is being assisted by Ecumenical Boys for Peace and Human Rights and Education International in the filing of its complaint.
“This has no precedent in the Philippines yet,” Basilio said. “But in other countries, there are such cases that have led to sanctions due to the human rights abuses and violations.”
The Human Rights Committee at the United Nations is a body of independent experts that oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Philippines is a state party to.
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