Netizens blast Sara for red-tagging striking drivers, teachers

Mar. 06, 2023

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Netizens blast Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte after she issued a statement that red-tags jeepney drivers who will launch a weeklong strike and teachers who have expressed support to the protest.

The statement posted on the Department of Education’s social media accounts, singled out the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) for supporting to what she called a “pointless weeklong transport strike” scheduled from March 6 to 10.

“ACT supporting this transport strike, and shamelessly harping twisted justifications for it, only betrays its true colors — that it is a group that does not really serve the interest of students and teachers,” part of her statement reads.

She added the transport strike is “a learning disruption” and proceeded to link the teachers’ group to the Communist movement.

“But ACT couldn’t care less if our efforts are hampered or if we fail because — as a lover of the useless ideologies espoused by the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines — ACT’s dream is for our children to remain uneducated and poor”, she said.

Netizens are quick to give their two cents, with a number calling out the education secretary for her insensitivity to the problems of drivers and commuters who are affected with the jeepney phaseout and for resorting to red-tagging.

“Ginamit pa talaga ang DepEd para mangredtag? Marami sa mga estudyante ng Deped ang may mga magulang na Jeepney drivers. So ang gusto mo, instead na pakinggan sila, ay masamain ang paghingi ng konteng empathy mula sa gobyerno (They even use DepEd to do red-tagging? Many DepEd students have parents who are jeepney drivers.  So you want that instead of listening to them, you make them look bad if they ask for empathy from the government). True learning is not only about the knowledge we gain inside the classroom but how we use it to help and improve lives outside the classroom,” said one Holden Kenneth Alcazaren.

“Ni-red tag naman agad. Hear the stories of those students whose parents are jeepney drivers. Siguro naman ay hindi lahat ng may pinaninindigan o tumataliwas ay wala nang ipinaglalaban, hindi dahil kabilang sila sa mga grupo o kilusang alam nating sumasalungat sa gobyerno kundi dahil may mas malalim silang dahilan lalo nat yun ang puhunan o pinagmumulan ng pang araw-araw na tustusin, (Perhaps not everyone who takes a stand or take opposition are shallow, not because they are part of a group or movement that we know are opposed to the government, but they have a deeper reason especially those who live day by day)” commented Maria Tessa Lei Santos.

“Jeepney driver po tatay ko dati, kaya alam ko ung pinakamaliit na detalye bakit sila tuloy tuloy sa pasada. Wag sana ganito. (My father was once a jeepney driver, so I know the tiniest details why they continue to ply their routes. It shouldn’t be this way.)  Inappropriate red tagging at its finest,” said Bhyren Garalde Saniel.

“You are so out of touch. You don’t know the struggles of both the jeepney drivers, and the learners. Sige, kayo mag provide ng transpo. Kaya niyo po ha? (Go ahead, you provide transpo, can you do that?) Secondly, why red tag teachers who are actually trying to help?? Wala ka pa nga nagagawa eh, (You haven’t even done anything at all)” said Biel Zaley.

“Instead of red-tagging those who support the drivers’ strike, the VP should seek to find solutions to the very reason why these drivers are going on strike. Why is she so AGAINST the STRIKE being staged by the very jeepney drives who supported her last year”, said R-Jay Mayor Berdin.

“Pointless weeklong transport strike? Where’s your sympathy towards poor drivers and operators,” asked Ynah Farco. Meanwhile, Adrian Carlo de Guzman said, “someone is detach from the reality and struggles of our jeepney drivers”.

“Why should we support this act (transport strike) of our dear jeepney drivers? Maybe they are the parents of our students whom we are teaching. Maybe, they are supporting a student giving them “baon” to motivate them to come to school for us to be able to teach them. It’s not an act of communist, but an ACT of CONCERN”, said Joel Ritarita.

“Ganito lang yan, when the government is incompetent, the “leaders” just pick someone to blame,” said Tessie Villaflor.

The ‘default scapegoat’

“Red-tagging has always been the default scapegoat of the powers-that-be each time they are criticized for their policies and decisions that are detrimental to the interests of their constituents”, said ACT Philippines chairperson Vladimer Quetua in a statement in response to the Vice President.

Quetua added it is shameful how Sara resorted to red-tagging their group instead of addressing the valid concerns of teachers and students with respect to the strike.

Sara Duterte has styled herself during her term as Davao City mayor as a thorn as a thorn against progressive groups where she labeled the Makabayan bloc and Lumad schools as “communists”.

ACT said their proposal to allow regional and division offices to cancel physical classes in areas affected by the strike is “only practical and proactive” and supporting the demands of PUV drivers against phase out and for pro-people modernization “is only just and compassionate”.

Quetua’s group also felt insulted that Sara is accusing teachers for keeping the students poor and uneducated: “This is a big insult to our teachers who ensure the delivery of education come hell or high water­­­­­ ꟷdespite the classroom shortage, lacking laptops and teaching materials, large class size, mounting non-teaching duties, measly salaries, delayed benefits, and many other problems”.

Responding further to Sara’s statement, ACT said the difficult realities like deep economic crisis and difficulties in public transportation, as well as lack of government funding to education are the “real serious impediments to education recovery”.

Meanwhile, Rep. France Castro of ACT party-list said Sara’s statement is very insensitive.

“Sa halip na salubungin ng pag-unawa ang mga PUV drivers na matatanggalan ng trabaho dahil sa ipinipilit na modernization program ng pamahalaan ay inilalagay pa sila at ang mga grupong tulad ng ACT sa panganib dahil sa panrered-tag sa kanila ng bise presidente mismo (Instead of trying to understand the PUV drivers will lose their livelihood as they are forced to comply the government’s modernization program, they and groups such as ACT are being put in danger through red-tagging no less from the vice president, ” she said.

The weeklong nationwide transport strike is expected to be participated by 100,000 jeepney drivers and supporters who oppose the phaseout of jeepneys to give way to modernize but expensive mini-buses.

They demand President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to scrap the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines and to grant their franchises to be extended.

Duterte has issued a memo directing regional directors and division superintendents to prepare for in-person classes and modular distance learning in the course of the transport strike.(

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