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Teachers assured on PNP operation

 

 

EDITORIAL

MEMBERS of the teachers group Al­liance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) have expressed concern over police efforts in many parts of the country to identify members of ACT in the nation’s schools. Police officers reportedly have asked prin­cipals and other school officials for lists of ACT members among their faculty.

The National Capital Region Police Of­fice (NCRPO) has been quick to assure the teachers who fear that this operation is rather similar to the surveys conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to pinpoint drug dens and drug suspects in Oplan Tokhang. The police surveys, it may be recalled, were quickly followed by raids in which thousands were killed, prompting President Duterte to replace the PNP with the Philippine Drug En­forcement Agency (PDEA) as the lead agency in the drugs drive for a while.

Director Guillermo Eleazar of the NCR­PO said there is no formal directive for police intelligence operatives to make an inventory of ACT members in Metro Ma­nila’s public school system. In any case, he added, getting information is part of police work.

The PNP information gathering was also reported in Tarlac, Bulacan, Cebu, Sorso­gon, Camarines Sur, Zambales, and Agu­san del Sur. The Department of Education is now looking into the matter; it asked its regional offices to verify the reports of the PNP asking for lists of ACT members in the provinces.

It is indeed true that information gath­ering is a legitimate part of police work, but the ACT may be excused for fearing this police project – which, it charges, amounts to “profiling” its members.

The ACT is a militant and nationalist organization of teachers set up in 1982 to work for the economic and political well-being of teachers and other educa­tion workers. It also has other goals, in­cluding protecting human rights, workers’ rights, land reform, and gender equality. It is allied with the party-list ACT Teach­ers which now has two representatives in Congress.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Pan­elo has been quick to reassure the na­tion’s teachers, who may feel threatened by the PNP project. “The President loves the teachers. He has promised to double their salary,” Panelo said. This could hap­pen in two or three months, he added.

It is good that ACT has called attention to the PNP information gathering on ACT members. Whatever its motives, the PNP operation seems a bit far off the usual police duties of fighting crime and main­taining peace and order in the commu­nity. PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has dealt decisively on the matter suspending the PNP officials who initiated it.

Panelo’s quick response in behalf of President Duterte should also reassure the nation’s teachers as a whole who have long been waiting for better pay as promised by the President after he doubled the salaries of police and military men last year.

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