The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday stressed the need for continuous gathering of intelligence information on members of left-leaning groups as part of efforts to preserve the country’s internal security.
PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said this move does not violate any law and is in compliance with their mandate to protect the people against “enemies” of the state.
“The Philippine National Police is the national police force mandated with the duty to enforce the law and maintain peace and order as a function of government consistent with state policy declared in Article II Section 5 of the Constitution that “the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy,” Durana told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
“Gathering intelligence allows the state to distinguish genuine progressives from unrepentant communist terrorists out to overthrow a duly elected government through violent means; routinely extort, burn and loot assets of businesses that gave livelihood to peace-loving citizens of this country,” Durana stated.
He said the enemies of the state included the communist terrorist groups, particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
Durana said it was CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison himself who tagged Bayan, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), League of the Filipino Students (LFS) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) as allied groups of the communist movement.
He, however, explained that the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which could be the basis of the ACT’s petition, does not apply to “information necessary in order to carry out the functions of public authority which includes the processing of personal data for the performance by the independent, central monetary authority and law enforcement and regulatory agencies of their constitutionally and statutorily mandated functions.”
“The PNP recognizes ACT as a legitimate union of teachers in the Philippines established since 1982 for the purpose of protecting the rights of teachers. But they ceased to enjoy this recognition when the enemies of the state proclaimed ACT as one of their own– as among the front organizations under its wings that work in support of the forces of the armed revolution,” Durana said.
On Thursday, ACT, represented by its National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez and Secretary-General Raymond Basilio, filed a petition against the PNP before the Court of Appeals over the supposed police surveillance of its members.
In a 40-page petition for prohibition, the group, through its lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers, asked the appellate court to hand down a temporary restraining order against the PNP’s “profiling or procuring lists of teachers affiliated with petitioner (ACT)”.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, welcomed the group’s move.
“Well that’s good so that we can answer it in the proper forum. I think this is a way to know the truth and what our police officers are doing as well as the people who are involved. If the allegations are not true, let them prove it,” the PNP chief told reporters on the sidelines of a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines. (With reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)