Irony of ironies. Teachers experienced harassment and intimidation from state forces in this very time when we are supposed to be honoured.
After the Armed Foces of the Philippines implicated 18 universities to the purported Red October destabilization plot, no less than Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde threatened mentors with possible charges of contempt for espousing ‘rebellious ideas,’ a day before the World Teachers’ Day (WTD). These tirades directed at teachers are immediately felt on the ground:
1. The Department of Education threatened Bacolod teachers with administrative cases if they go on to stage a mass leave today in protest of their dismal status;
2. Banners conveying teachers’ call for salary increase were removed by police forces the night before the division celebration of WTD at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on October 4. The police reportedly said that such is the order in the light of intelligence reports that activists are set to disrupt the day’s celebration. They also attempted to prohibit members of the Manila Public School Teachers Association from distributing leaflets and posters to their colleagues in the activity;
3. On the evening of October 4, text messages were circulated among Quezon City teachers reminding, among others, that hanging of banners were not allowed in today’s WTD division celebration at Araneta Center, Cubao; and
4. After staging ‘Almusalang Guro’ in front of the Department of Education Central Office last October 1, ACT Pasig members were sought by PNP men in their schools in the afternoon. Five policemen were reportedly asking around about the activities of teachers who are known union leaders in Nagpayong Highschool, Pasig City.
We condemn in the strongest terms such repressive and restrictive moves by the state forces against our teachers for what they deem as ‘anti-government’ expressions and activities. Our objective is to highlight the mentors’ underpaid and overworked plight and express our demands for decent salaries and humane working conditions which is the very essence of the World Teachers’ Day. Only a regime who has no intention of uplifting the status of teachers would look at our legitimate calls and actions as ‘anti-government.’ Only a paranoid and tyrannical regime would dare use repressive measures against teachers on our special day.
We implore the Duterte administration, enough with these diversionary and repressive acts and face the real issues of teachers! Fulfill the two-year overdue promise of salary increase which becomes more urgent today as inflation rate spiked to 6.7 percent. Reverse the looming education budget cuts in education for next year and increase the allocation for the sector to address the shortages in the education system. Release teachers from overwork due to oppressive policies like the Results-based Performance Management System and Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (RPMS-PPST).
We have waited too long and today is the day of reckoning for Pres. Duterte. His failure to concretely address the plight of our mentors on World Teachers’ Day would reveal that he only used teachers’ cause to forward selfish political agenda. Such will surely heigten teachers’ protests in the next months and no amount of intimidation can cause us to cower—it will, instead, further strengthen our resolve to stand and fight for our rights.