Statement of the Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers (ASSERT) condemning the latest assault by elements of the Presidential Security Group, the Pasig police and the DepEd/ULTRA security personnel on Teachers’ right to free expression and peaceful assembly during last October5 celebration of “World Teachers’ Day”
We, the 32,000- strong Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers (ASSERT) strongly condemn the latest assault by uniformed and civilian elements of the Presidential Security Group, the Pasig police and the DepED/ULTRA security force on what otherwise was a peaceful and orderly demonstration of solidarity by its members during last October 5 celebration of “World Teachers ‘ day” at ULTRA, Pasig City.
The unfortunate incident happened minutes after about ten (10) of our members from Pasay, Pateros, Quezon City and National Secretariat had positioned themselves on one side of the stadium allowing free ingress and egress and wearing ASSERT identification t-shirts to greet thousands of teacher delegates from the 3 regions of CALABARZON, Central Luzon and the National Capital Region with placards the size of a coupon bond.
Their placards read: “Save Philippine Education, save the Filipino teachers, save our children’s future”, “Implement the Magna Carta Now”, Upgrade the Salary Grade of Teachers to Salary Grade 20”, “ 6- working hours for Teachers, Implement now”, “ Education Budget dagdagan”, “ Reform GSIS Now”, slogans too civil, so we think, to deserve the kind of treatment accorded so-called “enemies of the State” during the dark days of the ousted dictatorship.
Wasting no time and without warning, uniformed policemen immediately cordoned off our members separating them into two groups and shut them off from public view as plainclothes security agents confiscated their placards. So, our teachers decided to distribute leaflets instead containing ASSERT’s commemorative statement for the significant event.
The statement explained the reason why October 5 was designated as World Teachers Day i.e. to commemorate the signing by the Special Inter-governmental Conference in Paris of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendations Concerning the Status of Teachers in 1966. That many of the recommendations that were adopted in the Magna Carta of 1966 have not been implemented. That our teachers would like to address these concerns not only to Sec. Bro. Luistro but to all stakeholders in education in response to PNoy’s call for public-private partnership.
The security personnel at the inner gates were not tolerant either. They inspected the bags of teachers for leaflets which they confiscated in earnest like what the dreaded MISG did to Mrs. Aquino and her children when making visits to Bicutan during early years of Martial law.
Three of our teacher-leaders ( Carmelita Del Rosario, Romeo Masagca of Pateros, and Olivet Nepomuceno of Pasay were compelled to take off their T-shirts with “Stop Commodifying Education, Defend Free Public Education” printed on them before being allowed entry to the stadium to participate in the half-day commemorative program.
One plastic bag of similar ASSERT T-shirts, tarpaulins and banners reserved for the afternoon’s “ Jog For Teachers’ Rights and Welfare” 4pm activity were also ordered deposited at the guard’s post by DepEd’s Chief of Communication and negotiator Mr. Kenneth Tirado who could not account for them later on when demanded by ASSET saying the PSG took them.
If our security and education officials could not even respect rights so basic as freedom of expression and assembly that our fundamental law bestows upon our teachers as citizens of this republic, then how could we expect them to implement a special bill of rights like the Magna Carta that has been honored more in the breach than in compliance for the last 44 years since its enactment?