The government’s anti-insurgency task force on Tuesday said that teachers and school personnel do not have to undergo a loyalty check to determine if they are influenced by communist rebels.
“I don't think there's a need to have a loyalty check on our teachers because majority of them are really committed to educate our children,” National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Secretariat Executive Director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said in a forum.
“So instead na mag-loyalty check tayo, i-advise natin ang mga guro (So instead of conducting loyalty check let’s advise our teachers).”
Torres also said that organizations like the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT-Teachers) were legal front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The undersecretary alleged that ACT had links to an underground group Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA).
Torres added that not all members of ACT are supported the communist group as most of them are “just there unwillingly and unwittingly supporting some not so good intentions of these organizations.”
Asked about the matter, ACT Philippines Secretary General Raymond Basilio said the NTF-ELCAC is using “red-tagging” to cover the government’s failure to solve issues in education.
“This is an old story that they are throwing against us. They are again using redtagging as a means to cover their failure to address the problems of the education sector,” he told GMA News Online in a message.
Department of Education (DepEd) spokesperson Michael Poa meanwhile said their agency upholds the right of teachers to join any organization but discouraged them from getting involved in illegal actions.
“Pagdating naman po sa ating mga guro, they really have the freedom to join these organizations. Hindi naman layunin dito sa DepEd na ma-abridge yung ganyang freedom,” he said.
(When it comes to our teachers, they have the freedom to join these organizations. It is not the goal of DepEd to abridge that freedom.)
“But of course, ang iniiwsan natin (what we are avoiding) is really for our teachers to engage in illegal activities,” he added.
Encounters near schools
The NTF-ELCAC and DepEd held the forum to discuss the recent pattern of encounters between government troops and rebels near schools.
Torres said the CPP intentionally designed the locations of the encounters as the security forces did not “pre-plan” this kind of clashes near schools.
“It's been happening actually since the start of the year, yung dinadala ng mga CPP-NPA-NDF yung engkwentro doon sa malapit sa mga eskwelahan (the CPP is bringing the enouncters near schools),” Torres said.
“Because sa punto de vista ng security forces, these are not pre-planned on the part of the security forces. We believe in our assessment that it was designed by the CPP-NPA-NDF to maximize yung terror na binibigay sa (it has on the) public,” he added.
Torres enumerated five encounters that took place near schools since January:
- January 9 in Baleno, Masbate - 1.25 kilometers from Eastern Capsay Elementary School
- February 9 in Barangay Guiom, Cawayan, Masbate - 200 meters from Guiom Elementary School
- March 20 in Barangay Villahermosa, Cawayan, Masbate - 200 meters from Villahermosa National High School
- March 22 in Barangay Locso-An, Placer, Masbate - 250 meters from Locso-An Elementary School
- March 22 in Barangay Gaid, Dimasalang, Masbate - near Gaid Elementary School
In response to these incidents, Poa said the DepEd and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are working on a memorandum of agreement to address security in schools. — DVM, GMA Integrated News