MANILA, Philippines – The progressive group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) filed complaints on Monday, January 28, against the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership, claiming that harassment and surveillance of their members is still continuing.
ACT members filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, Metro Manila police chief Director Guillermo Eleazar, and 19 other cops.
Año and the police face criminal complaints for violations of the Data Privacy Act and Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, and an administrative complaint for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The complaints stem from a PNP memorandum that ordered cops to compile a list of ACT members, a move that the group is seeking to stop through a petition earlier filed at the Court of Appeals (CA). The complaint at the Ombudsman seeks penalties against the police.
ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio told reporters that they continue to be harassed over their membership in the group, despite the pending petition at the CA. (READ: Teachers to PNP, DepEd: We're not terrorists)
Basilio claimed that a public school teacher in Escalante, Negros Occidental, found her classroom ransacked Monday morning.
"Hinalughog 'yung kanyang cabinet. Nakakapagduda kasi ang kanyang mga gamit, mga mamahaling camera, sapatos, hindi nawala, maliban sa dalawang bagay. Ano ‘yung dalawang bagay? 'Yung ledger po, 'yung notes ng kanyang activities, pangalawa 'yung kanyang transcript of records kung saan nando'n 'yung kanyang partikular na detalye," said Basilio.
(They ransacked her cabinet. But it's suspicious that they didn't take her things, her expensive camera or shoes, she only lost two things. What are those? Her ledger, her notes of activities, and her transcript of records containing some details.)
Basilio said they received reports that their members in Pampanga were also profiled last Friday, January 25. They have yet to gather complete information.
Basilio added he was also trailed by someone who eventually told him, "Ikaw na ang susunod (You're next)."
"Last Thursday, tayo po ay sinundan sa may SM North at binulungan ng, 'Ikaw na ang susunod.' This came after the death threat na natanggap natin nung tayo ay nasa Baguio," he said.
(Someone followed me to SM North last Thursday and that person whispered, "You're next." This came after the death threat that I received when I was in Baguio.)
Albayalde claims that the police's "inventory" of ACT members is within their authority as law enforcement officers. But the PNP chief has also said it is done to monitor who the teachers are affiliated with.
Albayalde cited "pronouncements" that ACT is affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front.
This is amid a continuing crackdown by both the police and the military on alleged communist activities.
By filing criminal and administrative complaints, ACT is seeking the police's suspension or dismissal from service.
"[We] file this complaint in the hopes that [we] can teach certain lessons – that activism or speaking up for one's rights and welfare is not a crime, and no official or member of the PNP, or any government agent for that matter, can violate the rights of any person to privacy, association, free speech, or any of the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and laws, and get away with it." – Rappler.com