By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As it filed supplemental petition at the Court of Appeals on Friday, a federation of teachers decried “continuing harassment” against teacher-unionists nationwide.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines alleged that the state of human and trade union rights in the country continues to “worsen” with the continuing harassment against teacher-unionists all over the country.
ACT noted that recently, three leaders of teachers’ unions “experienced harassment and threats” allegedly from state forces, as well as from unidentified persons.
For instance, ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio alleged that he experienced harassment from personnel of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) — the main investigation unit of the Philippines National Police (PNP) – who launched an investigation on him “per order from the Office of the President.”
Basilio said that the CIDG personnel also told him that the investigation was “in relation to a complaint ACT supposedly filed at the PNP” – which the teachers’ group denied as their complaints were filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Ombudsman. ACT further said that its “only correspondence to PNP was their request for a certified true copy of the leaked profiling memoranda.”
“Several PNP officials are respondents to the suits we previously filed,” Basilio said. “Why then are they the ones investigating us, the aggrieved party whose rights they already breached repeatedly in their brazen operations? This is part of their pursuit to harass and intimidate us,” he added.
Basilio also bared the “harassment and intimidation” experienced by ACT CARAGA Secretary Rosanilla Consad who reported “weeks of surveillance operations by men in motorcycles” commonly known as “riding in tandem.”
Citing Consad’s accounts, Basilio noted that “unidentified men were seen lurking outside her home in Butuan and, on multiple occasions, also followed her where she went.”
The ACT also documented a report from Professor Phoebe Sanchez, faculty member of UP Cebu and President of All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) – Cebu, who received death threats on the night of June 27, 2019.
Basilio noted that a staff from UP Cebu’s Human Resources Development Office reportedly received a text message apparently meant for Sanchez, which contained a death threat. “Teachers who fight for rights and social justice do not deserve to be persecuted. Unionism is not a crime,” Basilio said.
In relation to this, the ACT submitted to the Appellate Court the incidence through a supplemental petition as it moves to resolve ACT’s petition to “declare the unconstitutionality of the profiling memoranda and operations against their union.”
“The urgency of the Court’s resolution cannot be overstated, and we hope to finally be granted relief and served justice,” Basilio said. “Without it, we’re ever more vulnerable to further rights violations,” he ended.