January 29, 2023

An open letter to the DepEd-CAR director

We are writing to request that you withdraw your signature to the resolutions recently passed by the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (Rlecc). We learned from media reports how these undated issuances – Resolutions 1, 2, and 4 s. 2021 are actually empowering law enforcers and local governments to vilify, control the activities of and conduct tokhang operations to “known left-leaning personalities” in the Cordillera. We take issue with these resolutions for two reasons.
One, these issuances are dangerous, irresponsible, and unconstitutional.
In an earlier memorandum dated Feb. 9, the Police Regional Office-Cordillera is encouraging local government units to declare persona non grata progressive organizations, which include the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in their respective localities. The memorandum maliciously alleged ACT to be a “front” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The ACT and its regional chapter in the Cordillera, have been doing nothing but to fight for just and legitimate demands for the welfare and betterment of our teachers and for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education.
Now, by using tokhang as a pretext, the police and military are ramping up violations of our basic civil and political liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, and very well articulated by the Intergrated Bar of the Philippines-Baguio-Benguet chapter and deans of several colleges of Law in the region.
By signing the resolutions, you have, in effect, been made party to handing down a “death sentence” on legitimate organizations who are only striving for survival and pushing reforms, as citizens, for the good of our nation.
These kinds of issuances are not the best way to solve what these administration sees as the “insurgency problem.”
Red-tagging or political vilification used by state security forces as strategies to malign and delegitimize people’s organizations and gag dissent since the 1950s have been unsuccessful. Yet, they still stubbornly pursue their modus operandi of accusing legal organizations as “fronts” of the communist movement claiming that these are channeling support to rebellion, without any sufficient and verifiable evidence. And so, rebellion continues, spreads, and intensifies.
We also like to note that ours is supposedly a human and humane society and so, we should be educators for democracy, justice and peace. How are we supposed to teach the future of this nation the value of democracy when they see their own government ruling based on fear and violence? How are we supposed to teach our young people civic and human rights when they see their own government suppressing critical thinking and legitimate dissent, or we, educators giving up our own rights or are made part of rights violation efforts? How can we make education build a peaceful society when peace is taught as peace of the grave and not peace based on justice?
We are optimistic that you would consider our request. We would also like to inform you that ACT Cordillera is always open to discuss these matters with you.
Thank you for giving us an opportunity to be heard. — ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS-CORDILLERA

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