By Genevieve Candace Poquiz

The Department of Education (DepEd) refuted claims that the order barring teachers from interacting with students outside the school setting infringes on their freedom and is instead a reiteration of the code of conduct for civil servants.

Photo Courtesy of DepEd PH, Alapan 1 ES

DepEd spokesperson Atty. Michael Poa clarified in a press conference on Monday, November 7, that the issued Department Order No. 49 encourages maintaining a line between teachers and students, but it does not prevent them from communicating through social media if it is for class purposes.

“There has to be a line between the teacher and the learner, but we're not discouraging the use of social media for classroom instruction and that's why the word or the phrase ‘outside the school setting’ must be emphasized,” Poa said.

Furthermore, the DepEd spokesperson construed that by telling their personnel not to ‘disparage’ the department, they are not putting limitations on what they can post or share on social media.

“We are not curtailing their right to post on social media. Ang sinasabi lang natin, bilang civil servants, we really should not disparage our employer, being the government or our department. Pero hindi ibig sabihin niyan that we don’t want to be criticized, ibang bagay naman talaga ‘yun,” he emphasized.

The DepEd official also insisted that there are no violations towards the freedom of teachers, especially in instructing them not to use political interventions to raise their concerns.

"There is no infringement of any basic rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of speech specifically, with telling them not to go to politicians para po maiparating iyong kanilang concerns," Poa explained, pointing to the depoliticization of the “padrino” system.

Rather than resorting to other means, the spokesperson encouraged teachers to use proper procedures through the Public Action and Assistance center or by delivering their concerns to their superiors.

"Kung may kailangan po sila, mayroon naman tayong proper procedures, proper channels at hindi na kailangan dumaan sa mga politiko para lumapit or to ask for certain things like promotion or other favors. Idaan na lang po natin sa pormal na request," he stated.

Edited by: Audrei Jeremy A. Mendador