CHR: Profiling of ACT members a cause for concern

VIOLATION. Teachers tear copies of the PNP memorandum. Photo by Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler

VIOLATION. Teachers tear copies of the PNP memorandum.

Photo by Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday, January 7, said the police's alleged profiling of members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) already infringe on the rights of privacy and assocation.

In a statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the latest move by Philippine National Police (PNP) is already a cause for concern considering the "climate of harassment and threats against progressive and vocal groups."

"As part of their sworn duty to serve and protect, the police must acknowledge and recognize that the mere act of profiling already prejudices and discriminates against the members of the concerned groups, which is a blatant violation of the basic right to equal protection of the law," she said.

"There is a risk that the list can be utilized to repress legitimate concerns or to silence criticisms or opponents," De Guia added. 

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Guillermo Eleazar earlier said that listing members of progressive and militant groups was perfectly legal and that fears of it being used against them were unfounded. 

He added that the list was meant to be internal. He had ordered the relief of intelligence officers who "leaked" the memorandum. (READ: NCRPO: We won't use ACT teachers list illegally)

ACT Teachers and other groups called the act a form of harassment, curtailment of their right to organize, and a form of surveillance that could violate other rights. (READ: Teachers to PNP, DepEd: We're not terrorists

De Guia urged the PNP to stop using profiling and other similar methods as these can easily theaten basic rights and freedoms of people.

"The police can start the year right by ensuring that no method and operation can compromise the basic freedoms and human dignity of any individual or group," she said.

This is not the first reported profiling of progressive groups. Human rights organizations earlied called out their alleged surveillance and inclusion in the government's so-called "persons of interest" list. (READ: Prone to abuse: State surveillance as a tool to silence critics) – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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