discriminating ACT members in election service!
A press statement by
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
March 6, 2019
Over the last few weeks,
teacher-unionists under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
have reported alarming cases of disinformation in various regions,
where some local officials of the Department of Education (DepEd)
have been declaring the ineligibility of ACT union members to serve
as part of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in the upcoming
midterm polls. This is yet another attack against teachers’ right to
self-organization and a dirty attempt to persecute ACT.
In Central Luzon and
Eastern Samar, DepEd officials have purportedly been announcing in
meeting with school heads and in teachers’ seminars that ACT members
are prohibited from being part of the BEI for the 2019 elections. In
Laguna, a document that made rounds among teachers detailed the
qualifications of BEI members, which explicitly noted that members
of the “Allegiance of Concerned Teachers” are not qualified.
The outright singling out
of ACT members in election service has no legal basis. No law or
policy allows for the wholesale disqualification of BEI members –
especially not on the grounds of their affiliation to any
organization, as such would be a case of political discrimination
prohibited by the law. Furthermore, barring teachers from serving as
poll workers is a violation of R.A. 10756 or the Election Service
Reform Act (ESRA) which states that public school teachers shall be
prioritized in election service.
This is a vicious attack
against teachers’ economic rights. For underpaid teachers, the
P6,000 honorarium they receive as workers during elections is a
significant addition to their scant income. The accordance of a just
compensation to the difficult and perilous job they take on every
elections is a product of their determined and consistent effort to
push for the enactment of the ESRA, and to prohibit them now from
participating as BEIs is to deny them of their hard-earned victory.
This is a malicious strike
against teachers’ right to unionize, a clear attempt at
union-busting. Such efforts are aimed at forcing teachers to
dissociate themselves from our union by stifling their work and
As the surveillance and
harassment suffered by our members continue to intensify, another
dirty tactic of vilification and persecution is employed by the
state in a futile attempt to enfeeble us and our organization.
We call on DepEd to
clarify this issue involving their local officials. DepEd must state
for the record if there is such a national order to discriminate ACT
members in election service. If so, how is this related to the
meeting mentioned by retired DepEd Region 3 Director Torno which was
supposedly held between DepEd and the National Police Commission on
the government’s counter-terrorism campaign? The central office
shall effect measures to correct the unlawful and misinformed
pronouncements of its local officials.
We also urge the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to take urgent action to resolve
this issue. As the commission with the exclusive authority to
appoint or disqualify BEI members, we urge you to provide
clarification on this matter.
We demand the immediate
termination of all acts of terrorism launched by the state against
us in the form of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and
terrorist-tagging of our organization and our members. ACT
Philippines and ACT unions are legal and legitimate organizations of
teachers, administrative staff, and advocates who have consistently
lobbied for and advanced the rights and welfare of education
workers. Such are not acts of rebellion or terrorism, but are mere
exercises of democracy.
The state, instead of
subjecting teachers to intimidation and repression, should honor and
dignify teachers for their unparalleled commitment and sacrifice in
the fulfillment of their vital role in people’s education amid dire