DILG: Joma said ACT a communist front organization

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Highlights

  • DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), which cried foul over the alleged profiling of its members, is a legal front of communist rebels, citing exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison.
  • Malaya, and earlier PNP chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde, both cited a years-old video uploaded on YouTube where Sison appears to describe ACT, along with other militant organizations, as part of the rebellion.
  • Sison denied this in a Facebook post, saying the video was from a 'distorted' spy report.
  • Malaya said police are only monitoring members of ACT and 'any and all organizations' as a precautionary measure, especially since peace talks with communist rebels have broken down and Sison proclaimed that the top goal for 2019 is the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte.
  • Meanwhile, the militant Makabayan bloc in Congress, of which ACT Teachers party-list is part of, is calling for a House probe on the alleged order for the police to monitor ACT members.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) claimed that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison himself said that the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) was organized by its political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

"Therefore, it gets its ideology and it gets its directives coming from the broad network which forms part of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines," DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday.

Malaya — and earlier the Philippine National Police — were citing a video uploaded on YouTube where a much younger Sison talked about the structure of the CPP, its armed wing the NDFP and "legal democratic forces in the Philippines," which include ACT, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Gabriela and the League of Filipino Students.

 

"It is true that a minority class especially the only party which represents it cannot win the Philippine revolution all by itself," Sison said, before the video cut to his enumeration of the legal organizations working alongside armed communist rebels.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Sison denied that he identified any legal organization as a front of the CPP.

"[PNP chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde] is capitalizing on a distorted spy report on a 30-year old video of a speech of mine in Brussels in which I actually differentiated the legal democratic forces and the forces of the armed revolution," he said.

 

But Malaya insisted that ACT, whose members have reportedly been the subjects of police monitoring, is "inseparable" from the bigger network of communist organizations, even if it is legal.

"We have worked with them in the past. We have worked to increase the salaries of public school teachers … I have worked with ACT party-list representatives in the past. So we have been working with them, but nonetheless, we do not have to shut our eyes to what is the ideological background of this organization," Malaya said.

He added that the government should be cautious, especially now that peace talks with communist rebels have broken down and Sison, who is in self-exile, has said that ousting Duterte is the top priority for 2019.

READ: Duterte, Sison not closing doors to peace talks

 

Malaya said this is the reason why police are monitoring or profiling members of ACT, so they can find out what is happening on the ground and be prepared for any "action on this directive coming from the higher ups."

He added that the covert monitoring of "any and all organizations" should continue, despite objections of the militant teacher's group.

 

"I don't see anything problematic with what's being done. There's no crackdown. They're not being removed … from their posts as teachers," Malaya said.

Like drug watchlist

In a chance interview with reporters at the PNP heaquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Albayalde again defended the supposed inventory of ACT members, likening it to the drugs watchlist.

"Lahat ba ng nasa drugs watchlist nakita mo na trinabaho? There are validations conducted. How do you conduct the validation? Through intelligence gathering. Oh, eto may listahan ka. This is part of adjudication and validation kung ikaw talaga ay involved sa illegal act or not," he said.

He said there is nothing illegal with intelligence gathering and that it was just a case of identifying who among the teachers' organizations truly supported the communist armed rebellion who may be teaching children about communist ideology.

"Ito ang gusto natin malaman – sino ang mga nagtuturo ng mga ganito sa ating mga kabataan, hindi ba?" Albayalde said.

[Translation: This is what we want to find out – who is teaching our children about these things, right?]

This is not the first time that ACT has been "red-tagged" or accused of being part of the communist rebellion, which has been waging a guerilla warfare against the government since its foundation in 1968 with the goal of replacing it with a "national democratic" state.

No less than former Armed Forces chief Carlito Galvez accused ACT Rep. France Castro and NDF co-founder and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo as "active members" of the CPP and NPA, after they were charged for illegally holding minors and transporting 14 children from Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Castro and Ocampo have denied this accusation and said they are eyeing charges against Galvez before the Office of the Ombudsman for supposedly endangering their lives.

Makabayan wants probe

The militant Makabayan bloc in Congress, of which ACT Teachers party-list is part, wants a House probe on the PNP's profiling of individuals, organizations and political candidates who are being linked to the communist rebellion pursuant to an alleged police memorandum.

The office of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate sent to reporters a copy of a supposed memorandum from the Manila Police District, which calls for a periodic situation report on threat groups like the legal and armed wings of "communist terror groups (CTG)" and the identification of CTG-backed candidates in the midterm polls.

The group of lawmakers said in House Resolution No. 2233 that the PNP's supposed memo "instills the wrong and dangerous militarist mindset of treating those advocating change, those who join rallies and basically exercising their constitutional rights and freedom of expression and assembly, as enemies of the state."

They claimed that police officers visited some public hospitals on Sept. 8 and Oct. 3 to "question and harass" health workers' union officers, "creating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the workplace."

"The said PNP memo seems to have crossed the line in profiling and engaging in partisan politics by targeting individuals, organizations and candidates on the basis of mere allegations," the Makabayan bloc said.

ACT said it is eyeing to file charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against the police for supposedly violating teacher privacy and for allegedly committing election-related violations.

"Sa atin, bahagi ng isang demokrasya na may mga organisasyon na tulad ng ACT na nagsasalita at lumalaban. Sila, in fact, ang threat sa democratic rights ng mga mamayang Pilipino sa ginagawa nilang pagmamanman, paniniktik at pag-harass ng mga members ng ACT," ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio told CNN Philippines' Balitaan.

[Translation: For us, it's part of democracy that there are organizations like ACT which is speaking up and fighting. They are, in fact, the threat to democratic rights to our fellow Filipinos who because of their surveillance, spying and harassment of ACT members.]

The CPP has also slammed the alleged profiling of ACT members, calling it an affront to their democratic rights.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Sunday that the profiling of ACT members "violates rights to privacy and association."

"Clandestine operations may lead to a number of abuses as it is easier to deny accountability for any action," the CHR said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has since recalled at least one letter from an unspecified Schools Division Office which forwarded a purported memorandum from a PNP unit asking for a list of ACT members.

It also told CNN Philippines' New Day that the personal information of teachers have not been turned over to government entities.

Even so, the Palace has denied that the PNP is profiling ACT members.

Malaya said the DILG and the DepEd are meeting at 11 a.m. today on the alleged order to profile ACT members.

Meanwhile, Albayalde has since sacked police intelligence officers who supposedly leaked the memorandum.