ACT Teachers representative hails release of kidnapped teachers in Agusan del Sur

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio today hailed the news of the release of all remaining hostages held by armed men in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

“We’re happy that all students, teachers, and school officials have been released unharmed, although no doubt they have been traumatized by their experience,” said Tinio.

He insisted that the kidnapping incident could have been prevented had proper security measure for schools been put in place. “After a similar incident in 2009, involving more or less the same perpetrators, the authorities should have taken steps to keep this from happening again. Lessons must be learned and concrete steps taken to ensure the safety of students and teachers particularly in remote areas.”

Tinio recalled that the Agusan del Sur kidnapping was only one of many such incidents involving teachers. “In 2010, there were kidnappings of teachers in Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay as well as in Sulu. In one incident, a school principal was beheaded by his captors.”

“These series of kidnappings cannot be allowed to continue. It’s high time that the national government give priority and attention to providing adequate security for our teachers, especially those who dedicate themselves to serving in far-flung communities,” said Tinio.

The ACT Teachers representative called on the Department of Education, the Philippine National Police, and the local governments to work together to provide better security for schools. “There should be more police visibility, particularly in the remote areas, whether through the assignment of personnel in the schools, setting up of checkpoints and outposts at strategic places, and the like. Barangay officials and the local community should also be involved in keeping schools secure.”

Tinio also urged the national government to redouble efforts to disarm private armed groups, many of them former members of the government militia known as CAFGU, and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and punished. “At the moment, the kidnappers remain at large. They must be caught and punished. Impunity must not be allowed to prevail.”

Tinio is set to file a resolution calling for a Congressional investigation into the lack of security provided to teachers and students in schools, particularly in remote areas, in the light of the recent kidnappings. #

ACT Teachers representative calls for immediate release of hostages kidnapped in Agusan del Sur

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio called on the Aquino administration to exhaust all means to ensure the safe release of 14 teachers, students, and school personnel abducted by armed men last Friday in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

“We strongly condemn the kidnapping of the teachers and students by these armed men. This is a cowardly act committed against innocent students and dedicated public servants who strive to provide education to the young people of the remote communities in Prosperidad,” said Tinio. “We urge the national authorities led by Department of the Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo together with the local authorities to secure the immediate release of all hostages.”

Over the weekend, negotiators were able to secure the release of two of the hostages, division superintendent Hipolito Lastimado and Diosdado Cabantac, teacher-in-charge of Valentina G. Plaza Primary School. Fourteen persons remain in the hands of their abductors. These are district supervisor DepEd district supervisor Narciso Oliveros; school principal Apolonio Alibangbang; school property custodian Joel Sausa; teachers Manuel Mordeno, Filipina Quitoy, Allan Gallano; volunteer teacher Mary Jean Bedrijo; and, civilians Arnold Quitoy, Pido Dolorito, Gerlie Montecalbo, Maricel Lagnazon and Shen-Shen Cabagtag.

Tinio noted that teachers serving in remote areas are regularly targeted for kidnapping in some parts of the country, particularly in Mindanao. “Last year, teachers in Zamboanga, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Sulu were kidnapped by armed bandit groups. They were released only after months in captivity. The school principal kidnapped in Sulu was beheaded by his captors. This highlights the vulnerability of school personnel serving in remote areas, mainly due to a lack of security which should be provided by the police and the local government authorities.”

Tinio called for effective security measures to be immediately put in place to protect teachers and students. “The Philippine National Police must provide security to schools in remote areas by detailing police personnel to guard schools, putting up checkpoints and outposts at strategic locations, and so on. Local government authorities can also involve the community in providing security for their schools through the barangays and barangay tanods.”

“The factors which contribute to instability and lack of peace and order in these areas must also be addressed. For instance, the Aquino government must disarm all private armed groups and disband the militias or CAFGUs,” added Tinio, noting that the Ondo Perez group responsible for the kidnapping in Prosperidad were composed of ex-CAFGUs armed and trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Government must also make sure that kidnappers are brought to justice and punished and that impunity does not prevail,” said Tinio, noting that the perpetrators of previous kidnappings of teachers remain at large. “In this light, the Aquino government must also go after the powerful political figures that are said to be behind these bandit groups and acting as their protectors.”

Tinio vowed to call for a House investigation into the kidnappings of teachers and the lack of security provided to schools, school personnel, and students. “Hopefully, we can come up with measures that will prevent incidents like this from happening again.” #

Unpaid Rizal teachers to be paid today

After receiving complaints yesterday from public school teachers in Rizal that payment of their salaries for the month of March had been delayed for one week, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio immediately brought the issue to the attention of Department of Education Region IV-A Officer-in-Charge Dr. Lorna Dino, who said that she would look into it.

The teachers should have received their monthly salaries on March 22.

Soon after, Dino reported that the delay was caused by a problem with their computerized payroll system, which could not turn out balanced accounts. She added that they were still trying to determine the exact cause of the problem. In the meantime, she assured Tinio that teachers would be paid starting today, March 29. “Due to the problem with our system, teachers may receive overpayments or underpayments. We will make the necessary corrections in the next payday,” she added.

Tinio thanked Dino for her prompt action. “It is the fundamental obligation of government to ensure that our teachers are paid promptly. We hope that the problem with the payroll system is fixed soon.”

Tinio asked the teachers to inform his office if there were still problems with the release of their salaries. #

Additional compensation sought for BEIs

May 13, 2010

 

The ACT TEACHERS Partylist today urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to give teachers who served on the Boards of Election Inspectors in the May 10 elections additional compensation.

“The public school teachers who served as BEIs are rightly being hailed as heroes for their performance on May 10. We praise their professionalism, patience, and sense of patriot duty. In this regard, we call on the COMELEC to give teachers an additional Php 2,000 in recognition of the sacrifices they made to ensure the success of the country’s first automated elections,” said ACT TEACHERS national president and first nominee Antonio Tinio.

Tinio pointed out that the additional pay is justified because teachers had to put in extra days of work as a result of the massive recall of wrongly configured Compact Flash cards and retesting of PCOS machines in the days leading up to election day. “Not to mention the extension of voting hours by one hour and the difficult work they had to put in on election day as a result of the clustering of precincts, where you had 3 BEIs attending to up to 1,000 voters.”

Tinio explained that with approximately 220,000 BEIs nationwide, their call for additional pay of Php 2,000 would cost the government Php 440 million. “It’s a substantial amount but our teachers deserve it. COMELEC has spent over Php 7 billion on the machines, but far too little for the people who made them work.”

BEIs not yet paid for their services

In a related development, ACT TEACHERS voiced the disappointment of BEIs, many of whom have yet to be paid for the services they rendered for the elections. “We’ve received reports that teachers in Manila, Malabon, Navotas, as well as in Baguio, Mindoro, Bacolod, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor have not yet received their election service honoraria,” said Tinio. “Considering the sacrifices they’ve made, the least the government can do is to ensure prompt payment. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many places nationwide.” #