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Philippines: World Teachers’ Day violently interrupted by military

published 8 October 2010 updated 8 October 2010

EI is concerned to learn from Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers (ASSERT) that elements of the Philippine armed forces used aggressive tactics against a peaceful demonstration by teachers on World Teachers’ Day.

ASSERT group members have documented how uniformed officers from the Presidential Security Group, the Pasig police, and DepED/ULTRA security force cordoned off ASSERT members in Pasig City, separating them into two groups, and shutting them off from public view. After this, plain clothes security agents confiscated the ASSERT members’ placards.

Not dissuaded by this unprovoked action, the teachers decided to distribute leaflets instead which contained ASSERT’s commemorative statement for the international event. The statement explained why 5 October is designated as World Teachers’ Day, i.e. to commemorate the signing of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendations Concerning the Status of Teachers in 1966.

Three teachers, Carmelita Del Rosario and Romeo Masagca of Pateros, and Olivet Nepomuceno of Pasay, were forced to remove their t-shirts which carried the slogan ’Stop Commodifying Education, Defend Free Public Education’ before being allowed entry to the stadium to participate in the half-day commemoration. The

DepEd’s Chief of Communications, Kenneth Tirado, also refused permission for a bag containing other ASSERT t-shirts and banners for the afternoon’s ’Jog For Teachers’ Rights and Welfare’ activity be taken into the stadium. Instead they were left at the guard’s post outside the stadium.

EI, as the Global Union Federation representing more than 30 million educators worldwide, firmly condemns these deplorable events and urges the Government of the Philippines to ensure respect of its citizens’ basic rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly. EI also reaffirms that World Teachers’ Day should not be the occasion to go against teachers’ fundamental rights, but to celebrate them, and their invaluable contribution to society worldwide.