/ 24 June 2021

PUBLIC school teachers from Quezon City decried the red-tagging of some groups by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency–NCR during an orientation held at the DepEd QC division on June 22, 2021.

Several teachers questioned the allegations of NICA against the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines and other organizations during the “Orientation for Parents, Teachers and Principals on the Youth and Students Recruitment by the CPP-NDF-NPA.”

“It’s fair to say that both the speakers and the participants were aghast at the outcome of yesterday’s activity. On the one hand, teachers were surprised to hear NICA spew unfounded and clearly harmful claims against us and our organizations. On the other, I think NICA also didn’t anticipate that teachers will speak out against the violative contents of their orientation,” Ruby Bernardo, ACT NCR Union secretary and vice president of ACT affiliate Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, said.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict originally requested the online sessions for “security purposes” but NICA took over and continued holding seminars in every DepEd division in the region.

NICA’s presentation included a slide that said “DO NOT JOIN TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS,” which included ACT’s logo along with eight other organizations.

Bernardo said that one teacher asked whether these groups were proven to be terrorists, but NICA officials reportedly did not answer.

Another teacher belied NICA’s claim that they teach terrorism, citing that their lessons aim only to mold “good leaders and citizens who are armed with critical thinking.”

During the presentation, several teachers also expressed their discomfort and distress at the contents of the presentations.

“Here lies the danger of such activities, not to mention how completely unnecessary it is to subject teachers to such — especially at a time of severe crisis. Whether or not it was the intention of NICA, DepEd, and/or NTF-ELCAC to trample on teachers’ constitutionally enshrined freedom to associate, for instance, state forces’ wanton red-tagging nevertheless posed threats on teachers’ exercise of these basic rights and liberties. How then can we effectively teach these vital concepts to our students when we ourselves can’t exercise them? And how do we explain that the government who is sworn to protect our rights is violating them not only with impunity but with the use of our very own resources as part of state policy?” Bernardo said.