/ 5 November 2022

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro on Friday warned that the new order on professionalism issued by the Department of Education might impede the rights and freedoms of teachers and support personnel.

Castro said that DepEd Order No. 49 series of 2022 might muzzle DepEd employees.

“Teachers already follow the code of ethics under RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and RA 7836 or the Philippine Teachers Professionalization Act of 1994. Parts of the department order expand and even exceeds boundaries of the definitions under existing laws to prevent teachers from exercising their constitutional rights,” she said.

“Bawal naman na talaga ang political accommodation sa promotion, may definitions na rin na sinusunod ang mga teachers ukol sa ‘partisan politics’ tuwing panahon ng eleksyon, bakit kailangan pang iexpand ang mga definition ng mga code of ethics at conduct na ito?” the lawmaker added.

Castro questioned the move of DepEd to create an order that gags and threatens teachers and education support personnel, preventing them from exercising their right to free speech and expression.

“If the education secretary is open to sitting down with the teachers, talking to them, and genuinely hearing their demands, grievances, and struggles, she would see that our teachers are very dedicated to improving the quality of education and their work to be able to serve the country the best that they can. She would not outright reject appeals and requests from its employees for simply practicing their constitutional rights,” she said.

“Teachers are one with the rest of their communities in talking about, deciding, and shaping all matters even those outside of the school. If the education department insists on gagging its employees online and offline and prevents them from relating to others on things, not about the school, what else is left of them?” she added.