ACT: DepEd 'profiling' memo risks teachers' privacy and safety

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25) — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said a recent Department of Education (DepEd) memorandum asking all local units to submit a list of teachers affiliated with the organization violates their freedom of association, expression, and right to privacy.

The organization earlier accused DepEd of "profiling" its members after it issued on June 14 the memorandum with the subject "Request for Submission of the List of ACT Union-Affiliated Teachers Who are Availing of the Automatic Payroll Deduction System (APDS)."

The government agency has denied the allegation, saying that the "sole purpose" of consolidating the names of those availing of the APDS was to centralize and update its systems.

ACT said its members and regional unions have been following the existing guidelines on the APDS.

"Accredited regional unions that have APDS religiously update their members' status monthly. There is no need for DepEd to collect the list of ACT members as it is DepEd which approves and implements the APDS every month," ACT explained.

The group slammed DepEd's "justification" that the memorandum seeks to address employees' complaints of wrong deductions of monthly membership dues. It said this can be remedied by fixing the agency's record mechanisms without jeopardizing the privacy and safety of employees.

ACT also condemned DepEd's alleged continuous and illegal profiling operations by citing similar instructions from the agency issued in 2018 and 2021. The organization said the "long list of cases of violations" has already been submitted to the International Labor Organization.

According to ACT, there is no guarantee that the information gathered through the memorandum will not be used against the organization and its members. It claimed Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has been involved in the "relentless and malicious red-tagging" of its members.

"This is opening the big possibility of violating ACT's and its members' right to association, freedom of expression and protection of privacy," it said.

"We demand the Department of Education to end attacks on teachers and focus on overcoming education and learning crisis. DepEd should be the one who serves and responds to teachers' demands," the group added. “DepEd is duty-bound to uphold and protect teachers’ constitutionally guaranteed rights and fulfill the country’s commitment to implement ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association)."