MANILA - Several teachers' organizations on Thursday asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to stop the allegedly illegal police profiling of their ranks, which had triggered allegations of a government crackdown on dissent.
The suit followed the Alliance of Concerned Teachers' (ACT) recent claims that police officers made rounds in schools and asked for names of the group's members in Malabon, Cebu, Isabela and some Mindanao provinces.
Impleaded were Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, Metro Manila police chief Director Guillermo Eleazar, police intelligence chief Director Gregorio Pimentel, and several regional directors.
Petitioners include ACT Philippines, its unions in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, and the Manila Public School Teachers Association, with the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers as counsel.
The supposed profiling is meant to stifle "all forms of opposition," claimed ACT, which last year earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, for alleging that her city does not give allowances to teachers.
ACT and its co-petitioners asked the appellate court to nullify all police directives for the profiling of teachers and prohibit the supposed harassment of its members, which allegedly violate privacy and the rights to free assembly and expression.
The group's petition for prohibition, which also sought the urgent issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, cited first-hand accounts of those profiled and the supposed death threats they received.
“This is just a first step of a host of legal actions that we will undertake against the illegal profiling, intimidation and harassment that the PNP carries out against us teachers," ACT chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement.
Albayalde earlier denied ordering such efforts and sacked three officers who "leaked" the supposed police memo with the directive to profile ACT teachers.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said authorities will only monitor ACT members who have ties with communist rebels "if they have shown any acts that will be inimical to the state."
These efforts are part of the job of the police, he said.
ACT is allied with the leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc earlier urged the House of Representatives to look into the supposed profiling of teachers.