Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Monday, January 7, swarmed the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame to protest and announce that they are filing a case against the police force for allegedly profiling their members.
ACT Philippines Secretary-General Raymond Basilio voiced out the group’s concern on reports that law enforcers are asking about the whereabouts of ACT members and several others that are affiliated to them.
“The singling out of ACT members in PNP’s profiling is enough cause for alarm, especially with the state’s track record of violent suppression of dissent. We cannot sit idly by as PNP sows terror in our schools and communities,” Basilio said as reported by The Manila Times.
The secretary general for the umbrella group of public and private school teachers said that such move from police officers are trying to “justify and normalize surveillance.” He noted that the public has “the right to live freely and what they are doing does not fall under ‘normal.”
“The PNP has clearly been caught red-handed. After initially denying that such a memorandum exists, they have now turned to making outlandish claims about how this is part of their mandate and regular operations. This is an alarming attempt to normalize their illegal activities, going so far as to claim that anyone might be subjected to such operations,” Basilio said.
Similar cases in the said profiling are dispersed all over the country in areas such as Manila, Malabon, Las Pinas, Zambales, Bulacan, Rizal, Mindoro, Sorsogon and Agusan Del Sur. Orders are presumed to originate from national leadership after a certain memorandum is issued among police units to gather intelligence.
“Profiling is unmistakably wrong (as it hinders) privacy, free expression and organizing ranks. What they’re (PNP) doing is essentially union-busting,” Basilio said.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia urged the national police and government to clarify the mandate and practice transparency with how they enforce government regulations.
“Reports of alleged profiling of members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) are alarming as it violates rights to privacy and association, which are guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution among others,” de Guia said.
“Clandestine operations may lead to a number of abuses as it is easier to deny accountability for any action; we urge the government, particularly the Philippine National Police, to clarify such allegations–It is important for our police force to stay true to their role as law enforcers. After all, it is their sworn duty to serve and protect the rights of every Filipino.” de Guia added.
DILG, PNP: Only intelligence gathering, no crackdown
The PNP confirmed reports of profiling members of ACT, however, they noted that it is solely for intelligence gathering and not limited to the said group. PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said that they were determining whether it was supporting the armed rebellion.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that they plan on meeting with the Department of Education to explain that the PNP’s measures were legal and necessary and clarified that there was no crackdown on ACT members.
“Nonetheless, as previously stated by P/Director General Oscar Albayalde, we wish to underscore that there is no crackdown on ACT members in any school in the country. What the PNP is undertaking is simply intelligence or information gathering which is one of its major functions,” Malaya said.