Amnesty International Philippines responding to the Department of Education’s report on a number of NCR public high schools allegedly engaging in “leftist activities”, Section Director Butch Olano, said:
“Amnesty International Philippines is alarmed over the pronouncement of the Department of Education through its spokesperson, Undersecretary Michael Poa, mentioning that public high schools in NCR have links to communist groups. In recent months, we have seen a rise in red-tagging incidents by government agencies and pro-government groups against human rights defenders, activists, student leaders, development workers and other targeted groups – it is concerning that the department headed by Vice President Sara Duterte has added public high schools into the list.”
“The same counter-insurgency efforts deployed by past administrations, with President Marcos, Jr. carrying over the “Whole-of-Nation” approach for his “good governance” plan, where line agencies were directed to end “local communism” has been weaponized by various political and law enforcement entities to justify red-tagging. This strategy only yielded hundreds of reported cases of harassment, threats, attacks, and killings of human rights defenders, political activists, lawyers, trade unionists and other targeted groups perceived to be affiliated with the left.”
VP Sara Duterte, as DepEd Secretary should instead seek to address legitimate criticism on the dire situation of our educational system.Butch Olano, Section Director
“Instead of endangering our children and the youth in schools and universities by introducing activities with appropriated “confidential funds”, VP Sara Duterte, as DepEd Secretary should seek to address legitimate criticism on the dire situation of our educational system. If there are grave threats to our children’s safety, the Department of Justice already has the mandate to protect them against physical harm and any form of abuse by ensuring that the DILG and DSWD, in cooperation with the PNP, are implementing rights-based approach in policing all harmful activities targeting schools and universities. We encourage VP Sara to lead DepEd into a clear path, instead of this endless rabbit hole of deadly red-tagging.”
“Securing structurally sound classrooms and safe places of learning, learner-centered safety and security plan, where the school administration and the faculty are given adequate resources to plan, prepare, mitigate, and respond to threats, must be the priority of the vice president. All these should be discussed transparently and reported with accountability without abusing the coffers of the Filipino peoples’ hard-earned taxes.”
Securing structurally sound classrooms and safe places of learning, learner-centered safety and security plan, where the school administration and the faculty are given adequate resources to plan, prepare, mitigate, and respond to threats, must be the priority of the vice president.
“Amnesty International Philippines reiterates our calls for President Marcos, Jr. to end the practice of red-tagging, take immediate steps to repeal former President Rodrigo Duterte’s EO 70, and to finally abolish NTF-ELCAC. We also call on the government to renew its efforts to pass the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act as a crucial step for the development of a comprehensive policy for the protection of human rights defenders at risk including students and youth leaders.”