ALLIANCE of Concerned Teachers (ACT Teachers) Representative France Castro on Thursday slammed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for its orientation lectures in schools in the country that “condition the minds of the youth” to believe that dissent and criticisms of the government are unlawful.
According to Castro, Grade 11 and 12 students in the Philippine Science High School in the Cordillera Administrative Region (PSHS-CAR) were forced to attend an orientation by the NTF-ELCAC.
“Red-tagging, harassment, and threats have no place in schools. The NTF-ELCAC orientation on the so-called ‘Communist Terrorist Group Youth’ contains vilification, red-tagging, and terror tagging of progressive individuals and organizations targeting students, teachers, and education support personnel,” she said in a statement.
Castro is seeking to disallow interrupting student classes to make them attend such lectures and orientations.
“These orientations, with no other objective but to teach about bullying fellow Filipinos and using force to vilify those who are merely practicing their human rights, should not be done, especially when there is still a severe education crisis in the country and a lot to fix and make up for in the curriculum of our youth,” Castro said.
Castro also cited orders of the Department of Education (DepEd) declaring schools as zones of peace which means that police and military personnel are not allowed to enter the schools.
“The NTF-ELCAC has accused educators of brainwashing the youth many times and has tagged them as terrorists for simply doing their job to encourage curiosity, furthering human knowledge using critical thinking, and passing on learnings from history with the benefit of context, hindsight and guided analysis,” she said.
She has called on school administrators “to stand for the rights of their students and teachers by ensuring that schools are not launching pads for the military and military objectives.”
Prior to Castro’s words against the PSHS-CAR NTF-ELCAC orientation, the League of Filipino Students have also voiced alarm over the incident and called for students to boycott such orientations and stand up for their rights.
The NTF-ELCAC, which was created in 2018 by then-president Rodrigo Duterte, has been the subject of much criticism for its rampant red-tagging of individuals and institutions critical of the government.