Jason De Asis

By Jason De Asis

A run-off election between the unions of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Region III Union (ACT Region III Union) and the Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers – Central Luzon (ASSERT-CL) will be held on November to December, 2023 to be facilitated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 3.

The run off schedule will be held in Central Luzon provinces on November 14 in Aurora and Tarlac; November 16 in Pampanga; November 23 in Bataan and Zambales; December 7 in Nueva Ecija and December 14 in Bulacan. The union representing the teachers of the Department of Education (DepEd) here in Central Luzon will be chosen among them. Based on the Regional Memorandum Number 549 s. 2023.

Based on the 𝐑𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐌𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐦 𝐍𝐨.549 𝐬. 2023 signed by DepEd Regional Director May B. Eclar, there is a conduct of run-off election among the rank and file teaching personnel of the DepEd Region 3. The said run-off election between the contending parties is within control and supervision of lawyer Erwin C. Angeles of the DOLE region 3 mediation-arbitration and legal service unit (MALSU) as the designated election officer. It also stated that the winning party, through the simple majority, in this run-off election shall represent the regional teaching group during the conduct of collective negotiation agreement with management pursuant to executive order number 180, series of 1987 and subsequently issuances of the public sector labor-management council (PSLMC).

ASSERT Central Luzon President Arlene James S. Pagaduan recently announced in interviews in the media that they did not support any terrorist groups. He said in a SMNI, DWAY radio interview that since it was founded in 1997 the ASSERT is consistently PRO-TEACHERS. Posted also in the FB ASSERT fights for 4 actual teaching hours while ACT is for 6 teaching hours.

Accordingly, which would you prefer? Pagaduan also highlighted the 2019 Certification Elections and the anticipated run-off election. In the 2019 Certification Election (CE), a series of elections took place between October and November 2019. During this period, teachers were informed that they had three (3) options: (a) Alliance of Concerned Teachers Region III Union (ACT Region III Union); (b) Action and Solidarity for the Empowerment of Teachers – Central Luzon (ASSERT-CL); and (c) No Union. More than 90 thousand eligible voters were identified.

Out of this number, 73,699 individuals cast their votes, with 72,802 votes being deemed valid. According to the results, the ACT Region III Union secured 30,717 votes, accounting for 42.19% of the valid votes, while ASSERT-CL received 34,386 votes, representing 47.23% of the valid votes. The third option, No Union, garnered 7,239 votes, while 897 votes were declared spoiled. Additionally, some highlights from the 2019 Certification results include (a) ACT Region III Union winning in two (2) provinces – Nueva Ecija and Tarlac; (b) ASSERT-CL winning in four (4) provinces – Aurora, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Zambales; and (c) No Union winning in one (1) province – Bataan. According to the DOLE criteria for Certification Elections (CE), a labor union must secure a minimum of 50% plus one vote, which constitutes the majority of the valid votes cast, in order to be recognized as the representative of all employees.

Taking this into consideration, the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) under DOLE has determined that ASSERT-CL needs to achieve a total of 36,402 votes to be declared as the representative union through the Sole and Exclusive Negotiating Agent (SENA) process.

These results have led to the decision to proceed with conducting the run-off elections. The ACT Region III Union is anticipated to continuously beef up its campaign activities to guarantee its winning bid to be the SENA for teachers in the region. It will also likely utilize its belief that the security forces were the primary reason for their loss in 2019 CE notably to taint the government’s image to project that ACT, is the true representative of teachers.

Take it into consideration that they are for the welfare of the teachers, who would you prefer? In any political organization, battling of 2 or more parties is a common scenario, per se, each party tries to outdo one another by throwing muds and uncovering dead issues to the utmost opponent. Speaking of sincerity and truthfulness, this is the most overused term, yet still in vain because in the political arena only God knows the truth for “He is the Way, the truth, and the life.”

Between parties in opposites, the ASSERT CL at this time, has yet proven its non-linkage to terrorist groups on one hand; in the other hand, the ACT has been, and still, at present time, is occupying a part of the centerstage in the terrorism landscape and has a strong powerplay in the academe. In 1971, the CPP made known its evil intention and commitment when Jose Maria Sison (Joma) announced:

Transform the whole archipelago into a huge classroom of the revolution (Atrocities and Lies, the Untold Secrets of the CPP, Liwanag, Alcover, Porras and Matthew Jenning). Also in 1987, CPP-NPA-NDF Founder Joma announced the ACT as one of the front organizations of the terrorist group. ACT Party-list Representative France Castro vehemently denied it in different media entities saying that it is only a red-tagging coming from the government security forces.

She also condemns in the strongest possible terms the red-tagging issues against ACT. On the other hand, Castro together, Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and 16 others were also charged for violations of RA10364 in relation to RA 7610, kidnapping and failure to return a minor.

The kidnapping and human trafficking charges over the transport of 14 children from Talaingod town in Davao del Norte. The kidnapping charge stemmed from the claim of a minor that he was being held against his will.

On the part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), they said that the ACT Teachers Party-list is one of the legal fronts.

ACT is a front organization based on the pronouncement of Joma Sison in his 1987 video. Even Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa recently has called on teachers to be more vigilant and expressed concern about a potential increase in the recruitment of insurgents among basic education learners.

He urged teachers to ensure that students are not recruited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in remote areas, leading them to fight against the government and potentially lose their lives.

In its radio interview, ASSERT vehemently made a pronouncement that the union is Pro-Teacher since its foundation in 1997.

Pro-Teachers, this remains to be proven as this is the same manifestation previously by ACT in the early years of its existence to conceal its true purpose. As for the number of actual teaching hours: 6 for ACT and 4 hours for the ASSERT, the number of teaching hours is in material, what matters most is how the teaching hours are being utilized in the learning process. Is the teaching strategy effective, are the learning competencies achieved in the part of the learners?

This solely depends on the teaching environment which encompasses many factors. On matters of voting, each qualified citizen should cast his vote to exercise the right of suffrage; however, each vote should be guided by the adage, “Vote not for your friend, but for the public friend”.

Public friend would explicitly mean voting for the most qualified person/s, party. Let me add the word righteous in the eyes of God, that is, truly serving its purpose for the welfare of the people, however, the Bible so speaks,” For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God.