DepEd memo violates privacy – ACT
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Sunday maintained that the move of the Department of Education (DepEd) to ask for a list of those affiliated with their group was a violation of their right to freedom of association and privacy after the agency justified its request.
In a memorandum dated June 14, Education Undersecretary Revsee Escobedo instructed regional directors and schools division superintendents to submit a complete list of teachers affiliated with ACT who are availing DepEd’s automatic payroll deduction system (APDS).
Aside from ACT, DepEd also asked in separate memorandums lists of those affiliated with the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition and DepEd Teachers’ Union.
All documents did not indicate or explain the purpose of the request and DepEd only issued a clarificatory statement on Saturday after the memorandum, which ACT suspected as “profiling operations” of the agency, drew criticisms online.
“The sole purpose of consolidating the list of [those availing] APDS from various organizations in the regions is to centralize, connect, update and improve the department’s Human Resource Systems, including the APDS,” the DepEd statement read.
No need for list
DepEd added that there have been “regular complaints” from employees over inaccurate, questionable, and unwarranted salary deductions for loan remittances and membership dues.
But according to ACT, there was no need for DepEd to collect the list of their members “as it is DepEd which approves and implements the APDS every month.”
The group added that its accredited regional unions that have APDS regularly update their members’ status every month.The new memorandum, ACT said, was only seeking to “stigmatize ACT’s work, repress its advocacies and restrict civic space from teachers and education workers who are critical of the government.”
“As with DepEd’s justification that the memorandum was to address employees’ complaints of wrong deductions of monthly membership dues, this can be simply resolved by fixing their record mechanisms without compromising the privacy and safety of all other employees,” ACT said.
The group likewise pointed out that it had all the reasons to sound the alarm for there was no guarantee that the documents being requested would not be used against ACT and its members, “knowing that the current Secretary and Vice President Duterte is [engaging in] relentless and malicious red-tagging of ACT,” it said.
“This is opening the big possibility of violating ACT’s and its members’ right to association, freedom of expression, and protection of privacy. We urge DepEd to go after abusive loan sharks and lending institutions instead and spare unions and teachers’ organizations,” the group added.