Teachers’ group goes to Court of Appeals to stop police intel list

Lian Buan

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Teachers’ group goes to Court of Appeals to stop police intel list
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers and affiliate groups seek a temporary restraining order and for the police memorandum to be declared unconstitutional and void

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the progressive group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), who were surveyed by the police for inclusion in an intelligence list, went to the Court of Appeals (CA) on Thursday, January 17, seeking an injunction.

ACT, two of its regional groups, and the Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA) filed on Thursday a Petition for Prohibition with an urgent request for a Temporary Restraining Order or a preliminary injunction against the compiling of the intel list.

The petition was filed against the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership, including police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, and Metro Manila Police chief Director Guillermo Eleazar.

Petitioners alleged that the intel list being compiled by the police violates their rights under the Data Privacy Act, the Magna Cara for Public School Teachers, Administration Code of 1987, and the 1987 Constitution, which all guarantee rights to freedom of expression and rights to organize. 

“The [petitioners] have likewise demonstrated that the continuing implementation of the profiling poses an actual and imminent danger to the members of Petitioner organizations, hence, the necessity and urgency for the issuance of an injunction against the same,” said the petition, prepared by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

What list? The intel list is being compiled by the PNP, but Albayalde has so far only given vague reasons for doing it, such as to monitor “who they are affiliated with.”

Albayalde went on to cite “pronouncements” that ACT is affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

This follows a continuing crackdown of both the police and the military on alleged communist activities. They earlier surveyed schools and universities for students allegedly being recruited by communist groups.

The National Youth Commission (NYC) has also asked the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) to report all leftist activities.

Why is the list threatening? The petition claims the list has stopped some members from speaking out.

“In some chapters of Petitioner ACT, not a few members have already expressed their fears of being publicly known as ACT members and as such expressing their critical views of the current regime,” said the petition.

Teachers told the CA some of them have received threatening calls purportedly coming from members of the New People’s Army (NPA), but calls they suspect are part of the surveillance.

ACT has around 180,000 members nationwide. 

The surveillance began with a police memorandum, which was affirmed to an extent by a subsequent memorandum by the Department of Education (DepEd) notifying school heads of the police order “for appropriate action.” The DepEd has since revoked its memorandum.

The PNP, meanwhile, has fired policemen it found to have caused the leak of the memorandum to the public.

“Were it not for the leaking of the PNP memoranda and the actions of those who implemented it, such profiling was intended by the PNP to be conducted surreptitiously or clandestinely – that is, without the knowledge of ACT and of public and private school teachers, and without informing those concerned, including the DepEd and the teachers themselves, of the reasons thereof,” the petition said.

The PNP has insisted the list is legal, and is within its authority as law enforcement agency.

Petitioners said the police cannot cite presumption of regularity in its intel list, because “it is an established principle that the presumption of regularity cannot be applied when there is a clear violation of a constitutional right.” – Rappler.com 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.