DepEd’s request for APDS list renews teachers’ red-tagging fears – ACT
MANILA, Philippines — Teachers panicked when the Department of Education (DepEd) requested a list of those who use an automatic salary deduction system due to past profiling incidents targeting them, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) claimed on Monday.
In a press briefing, ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio said teachers feared the DepEd’s list would be used similarly to previous incidents of harassment, which happened during the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte, father of Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte.
Basilio added that they got wind of the DepEd’s memorandum asking for the names of ACT Union teachers who availed themselves of the automatic payroll deduction system (APDS) as early as June 16, after regional offices informed them about it.
“There was panic in schools because we have received a lot of complaints, that’s why we immediately issued an alert by June 17, detailing the initial information that we received. It is not unknown to us that after the widespread profiling in the past, many ACT members have been harassed and intimidated since 2018,” he said in Filipino.
“That’s why when the memo came out, teachers felt troubled as they asked if what happened in 2018 would be repeated if they would still hide or worry about their security,” he added.
The memo in question, Memorandum OUOPS 2023-01-5591, was dated June 14 and was issued by the DepEd’s operations office.
Basilio said the supposed rush to get the names of ACT member-teachers and the alleged lack of consent, contrary to the Data Privacy Act, only stoked fears of profiling.
“What is the particular scenario? The principal called a faculty club president to tell him to list all the names here. When the teacher asked who ordered it, the principal said there was a need to submit a report to the division office; there was a deadline we needed to beat. So if that’s the case, the immediate reaction of teachers is, why would there be a list again?” he relayed.
“Second, it is clear from the provisions of the Data Privacy Act that there should be a consent of an individual before we give out sensitive information that includes your affiliations. None of this happened; they didn’t discuss the provision of the Data Privacy Act, they didn’t ask the consent of each individual teacher,” he added.
ACT National Capital Region Union president Ruby Bernardo said they could not help feeling this way — associating the memo with red-tagging — since it happened in the past.
“It is really impossible to refrain from associating this to profiling and red-tagging because this is not the first time — it is actually the third time that this happened to our teachers,” Bernardo noted.
DepEd has previously assured ACT member-teachers that no profiling is being done against the group and the union, saying that similar lists of teachers using the APDS were requested for other faculty groups and organizations.
The department also said that the request for lists was only made after employees complained about wrong salary deductions while using the APDS.
DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa explained that the APDS memo was not intended for profiling, saying that such allegations were “patently absurd, distorted, and followed no logic.”
However, ACT said such a request violates their members’ right to privacy.
ACT and DepEd had clashed over policies before: just this March 2023, ACT called for hiring 30,000 teachers yearly to ensure that the ideal teacher-to-student ratio would be attained. Vice President Duterte replied that ACT is a fake representative of teachers, claiming it is a front of the communist armed group New People’s Army.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro claimed that Duterte was only diverting the people from discussing legitimate education-related issues.