DepEd slammed over new directive: It bars exercise of workers’ rights, freedom

DepEd slammed over a new directive

FILE PHOTO: ACT Party-list Rep. France Castro during the weekly press briefing at the House of Representatives on Thursday, Nov 21, 2019. Morcoso

MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Education’s (DepEd) recent order, telling employees not to “disparage” the agency, obstructs the exercise of basic human rights, according to a party-list lawmaker.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. France Castro said Friday that portions of DepEd Order No. 49 extend and surpass the limits set under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Philippine Teachers Professionalization Act of 1994.

Castro pointed out that DepEd employees and teachers currently abide by the code of ethics stipulated in the above-mentioned laws regarding political accommodations and endorsements, and partisan politics during elections.

However, she stressed, “Parts of the DO expand and even exceed boundaries of the definitions under existing laws to prevent teachers from exercising their constitutional rights.”

On Wednesday, November 2, DepEd released the directive signed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, reminding DepEd employees that they must raise issues and concerns on basic education through “formal and appropriate channels…without resorting to any political or third-party intervention or accommodation.”

Duterte, through DepEd Order No. 49, told them to “always be mindful of the reputation and honor of the organization.”

READ: VP Duterte to DepEd workers: Don’t ‘disparage’ your own

“Why does DepEd feel the need to create such an order that gags and threatens teachers and education support personnel, which treats them as mere creatures only of the school and dehumanizes them preventing them from exercising their right to free speech, expression, to organize and be able to voice out their grievances?” Castro asked.

She then called on Duterte to meet with teachers to listen and discuss their concerns, struggles, and demands so the DepEd chief could “see that our teachers are very dedicated to improving the quality of education and their work to be able to serve the country the best that they can.”

“She would not outright reject appeals and requests from its employees for simply practicing their constitutional rights,” Castro added.

Teachers are humans, not robots

“If the education department insists on gagging its employees online and offline and prevents them from relating to others on things, not about the school, what else is left of them?” she further asked.

Teachers, according to Castro, should be treated as humans who contribute to society and are able to exercise critical thinking instead of seeing them as robots who “blindly follow the state-sanctioned ‘truths’ of the administration.”

READ: Public school teachers bear class opening difficulties

“When the government is empowered to say what is ‘fake’ or what the state considers ‘disinformation,’ this will prevent the people from speaking truth to power, and will force them to speak and believe only the state-sanctioned ‘truth’,” she said.

The party-list lawmaker said DepEd should instead redirect its focus on addressing the shortage of classrooms and other resources in public schools and improving its support for teachers, among others.


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