Rep. Castro fires back at Sara Duterte: It’s DepEd diverting us from education issues
MANILA, Philippines — Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. France Castro claimed that it is not them but the Department of Education (DepEd) under Vice President Sara Duterte that has been diverting the people from discussing legitimate education issues.
In a statement on Wednesday, Castro reacted to Duterte’s claims that hiring 30,000 teachers yearly is impossible and that ACT is only trying to divert attention from the New People’s Army (NPA) attacks in Masbate province, which has affected students in the said area.
Duterte reacted harshly when ACT requested 30,000 teachers yearly to fill school shortages. Castro said DepEd red tags progressive groups instead of fixing long-standing problems.
“Ilang taon na ring panawagan ito ng ACT Teachers party-list at ang pangmasang organisasyon na Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines sa mga nagdaang administrasyon at may iba-ibang lebel ng kanilang pagtugon dito pero ngayon lang nangyari na sabihin ng DepEd secretary mismo na ang mga panawagang ito ay ‘unrealistic and impossible’,” Castro said.
(ACT has been talking about hiring more teachers for several years and the past administrations have had different responses, but it is only now that the DepEd Secretary herself would say that it is “unrealistic and impossible.”)
“Malinaw sa kasyasayan na kaya itong magawa, ibukas lang sana ang isipan at wag puro red tagging ang inaatupag,” she added.
(Our call is clearly attainable, as long as they keep an open mind and refrain from focusing on red-tagging.)
Castro said their long-standing push for DepEd to hire new teachers is justified. She also observed that the previous two administrations—including Duterte’s father, former president Rodrigo —had come close.
“In fact, the past two administrations were able to get near these targets as the Aquino administration hired an average of 29,166 teachers per year and even the administration of the current vice-president and concurrent [DepEd] secretary’s father was able to hire 25,000 teachers per year,” Castro said.
Masbate military-NPA clash
Regarding the attacks in Masbate, Castro said that these are condemnable and should merit investigations.
“As for the incidents in Masbate , they are indeed condemnable and an independent probe should be conducted by forensic experts and the Commission on Human Rights to see the real perpetrators of the gun firing near the schools,” she said.
“These incidents also highlight the need for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to address the root causes of the armed conflict,” she added.
Duterte and DepEd have been at odds with Makabayan, a left-wing alliance.
ACT blasted Duterte early this year for saying education reform will fail if students and school administrators give half their effort, saying teachers already provide more than they can and that budget constraints hinder reform.
When she was Davao City mayor in 2018, Duterte dubbed party-list members liars and terrorist sympathizers, suggesting they were linked to the armed insurgency.
ACT and Makabayan have often denied NPA links.