THE Education Department on Monday defended its recent directive to identify the membership details of two teachers’ organizations, saying it is a standard and legitimate requirement.
In a Palace briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said groups that deal with the agency must comply with customary necessities— including the submission of names of their officers and members.
“[These organizations are…] legitimate and therefore, they are perfectly required by law to submit what is usefully required of legitimate organizations which deal with the government,” Briones explained.
The secretary was reacting to criticisms from the two teachers’ groups—the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC)—which condemned the profiling directive for local Department of Education (DepEd) officials to identify members of their groups.
They said the department had violated their constitutional rights when it disseminated an online survey meant to profile teachers who belong to ACT and TDC.
The Google form, reportedly titled “Data on the Number of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition and Alliance of Concerned Teachers,” required users to input full names as well as e-mail addresses, and state whether they were affiliated with either, or both.
Briones said the department collects certain fees from members of teachers’ groups, as she said, “We have to know the names of the members in order for us to deduct membership fees.”
As there is nothing irregular about the directive, she allayed concerns that such action may lead to the harassment of teachers.
“We don’t harass. Everything, any action that we have undertaken, is always covered by the law, because that is my training,” she assured. “We are a government of laws. Organizations which deal with the DepEd, of course, have to comply with the requirements.”
Meanwhile, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan said the agency would safeguard the teachers’ personal information: “We have a data protection officer in the [DepEd], and so any disclosure or sharing of this information complies with data protection.”
He confirmed: “There is no individual profiling that the department is doing outside of the required submission of information.”
Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA