‘Hands Off Teacher-Unionists!’ – Labor Rights NGO

October 22, 2019

Labor rights NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) denounces the consecutive brutal attacks against teacher-unionists in the country. 

Just a few days after the celebration of the World Teachers’ Day, wherein teachers in the country ‘celebrated’ through a huge protest nationwide to demand their call for living wage or the P30,000 entry-level salary for teachers, attacks against them escalated.  

On October 15, teacher-unionists Zhaydee and Ramil Cabañelez survived an attempt to their lives. Teacher Zhaydee is currently in critical condition with two (2) gunshot wounds on the chest and two (2) on the feet. She was shot during the school’s flag ceremony, in front of horrified school children. Both teachers, Zhaydee and Ramil are active members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Region 10.

Meanwhile, on October 16, another teacher and member of ACT in Bulacan fell victim to what ACT considers as a systemic attack against teacher-unionists. Digna Mateo, a staff of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Bulacan and ACT Provincial Coordinator was illegally arrested at the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Malolos, Bulacan. A few days prior to the arrest, Mateo was tailed by two men riding-in-tandem who were later known to be members of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Elements of the military have also visited her home as a form of harassment. 

“Only the state stands to benefit from these attacks as warning that to keep them silent despite their low pay while they are breaking their brains and brawn to teach our children. This clearly undermines their legitimate demands for substantial wage hike and better working conditions that consequently undermines the future of this nation. This government’s utter disregard for human rights ignites more protests and hatred of this rotten system. The current government should have learned that the more they suppress and repress dissent amidst poverty, the more it encourages resistance,”Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said. 

Since 2016, ACT has been a target of different forms of harassments – profiling, red-tagging, threats and vilification. “As the solidarity of teachers and other sectors nationwide grows, the Duterte administration also intensifies its attacks.” Arago added.  

CTUHR calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Teacher Digna Mateo and a thorough investigation of Teacher Zhaydee’s shooting. The Center also urges the Commission on Human Rights in which ACT also testified in the latter’s public inquiry, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Employment to look into these matters and execute appropriate actions. It also calls on both departments to prompt the government to accept the ILO Tripartite High Level Mission into the Philippines.###