Filipino teachers must resist the US-Duterte regime amid the Covid-19 pandemic!

In celebration of the World Teachers Day, the National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao salutes the revolutionary teachers under the banner of Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA) and all other Filipino educators for their perseverance to ensure the education of the masses despite the reactionary state’s perennial neglect, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the face of this health and socio-economic crisis, Filipino teachers must be applauded for their painstaking endeavor to adjust to the demands of “blended learning,” notwithstanding the negligible support from the reactionary national government.

We especially commend the invaluable efforts of the teachers in Lumad schools and bakwit centers, as they continue to overcome a different context of challenges and difficulties in the midst of US-Duterte regime’s fascism. These Lumad schools were unjustly and abruptly closed down, becoming collateral damage to the fascist state’s de facto martial rule and counter-insurgency witch hunt.

Incidentally, today also marks the adjusted opening of classes by the reactionary Department of Education. Jumping the gun, Duterte’s Education secretary Leonor Biones already claimed victory over her department’s fight against the pandemic, seemingly oblivious to the fact that over 7 million students have not been enrolled and news concerning teachers’ difficulties due to inadequate resources and facilities abound.  With the rushed and thoughtless plan for the re-opening of the school year, Duterte seems adamant to gamble the lives of thousands of teachers and millions of students in order to appear on top of things.

While insisting that it is “ready to face the challenges of blended learning,” the Duterte regime is actually shifting the burden of responsibility to teachers. Already appallingly underpaid, Filipino teachers stand as lab rats of the reactionary government’s ill-conceived “blended learning” scheme. As a result, they are overwhelmed to operate in so-called “modular” or “digital” modalities without enough logistics, training, and support and are expected to compensate for all financial and resource incidentals.

As a matter of fact, Duterte’s proposed 2021 national budget is a harsh slap to Filipino teachers, baring Duterte’s true priority amidst the worsening Covid-19 situation. The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education rank only fourth in combined percent share of the proposed budget, trailing behind Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of National Defense. The entire education sector is nowhere near Duterte’s priority compared to military and infrastructure spending, and even the hidden “pork” being inserted by Duterte and his cronies to position themselves in the upcoming 2022 reactionary elections.

The reality is that even before the pandemic, the Philippine education system is already anti-poor, fraught with insufficient resources, facilities, and support while suffering from persistent slashes in annual budget. It is plagued with neoliberal policies such as the K to 12 Program that train Filipinos to become cheap labor export. As an added injury, teachers, students, and even parents are also being subjected to surveillance and red-tagging. Teachers are burdened, therefore, of the inherent character of the education system being commercialized, colonial, and fascist.

We enjoin educators under KAGUMA to strengthen their unity in all forms of resistance in order to advance the national democratic revolution. They must link arms with and depend on the parents of the children whom they mold—the peasants and workers—as they all bear the brunt of the social downturn in the face of this health and socio-economic crisis. They must expose and oppose not only the US-Duterte regime’s criminal negligence but its profiteering scheme and intentional weaponizing of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As mediators of knowledge, Filipino teachers are in a crucial position to arouse, organize, and mobilize the people against the basic social ills bred by the semicolonial and semifeudal state. They must champion the nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education system, especially at this crucial time in our history when the ruling clique of the reactionaries under Duterte deliberately revise history to glorify dictators and gloss over their crimes.

We urge Filipino teachers to become both students and educators of the masses and teach the most underserved in the countryside, especially our Lumad and peasant children. We urge them to join the armed struggle and together with the rest of the working class, take the lead in shaping a just society.

Long live KAGUMA and all teachers around the world!

Filipino teachers must resist the US-Duterte regime amid the Covid-19 pandemic!