Philippines: Renewed attacks on teachers and their union

published 27 February 2020 updated 10 October 2023

Despite international solidarity, human and trade union rights abuses continue in the Philippines. The red-tagging and vilification campaign targeting members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers is escalating.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), one of Education International’s affiliates in the Philippines, reports renewed attacks on its members since the beginning of the year. Two ACT regional leaders face new fabricated charges of child abuse and human trafficking intended to silence them. On 3 February an arrest warrant was issued for one of ACT’s regional presidents. The police continues to profile ACT members, with a new case recorded on 14 February in Bataan province, Region 3. The names of ACT leaders in the province were listed in a confidential memorandum of the Philippine National Police.

Raymond Basilio, ACT General Secretary and Education International Executive Board member, has been the target of constant harassment and has received increasingly alarming threats.

A campaign of defamation and intimidation

The attacks against the teachers’ union began in early 2019. Employing a strategy called red-tagging, the government and its supporters have mounted a defamation and intimidation campaign against the union. ACT members and leaders have been accused of terrorism, followed in the streets, harassed, have had trumped-up charges levelled against them, have been arrested and even shot. At the end of October 2019, two teachers and ACT members were shot in their classroom, in front of their students in an attempted extrajudicial killing.

The escalation in hostility towards the teachers’ union comes in the wake of an international day of solidarity. On 10 December 2019, Human Rights Day, Global Union Federations including Education International, staged a joint action to raise awareness of the attacks on trade unionists by the Duterte administration and its supporters.

Reacting to the latest developments in the Philippines, David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, stated: “We will not be deterred. We must mobilise and show Duterte that we will not back down from defending human and trade union rights. These rights are simply non-negotiable. Our colleagues have our full support and solidarity.”

Stand with teachers in the Philippines

Join nearly 9,000 trade unionists and sign the LabourStart petition supporting the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

If you have already signed the petition, please share it with your colleagues and help us increase the pressure on the Duterte regime until human and trade union rights are respected throughout the Philippines.

To find out more about the situation in the Philippines, read the blog by Raymond Basilio or listen to the podcasts with ACT’s France Castro and with journalist Maria Ressa.