An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday urged the public to be discerning in distinguishing propaganda from the truth with regard to issues disseminated through social media.
In a statement, DepEd Undersecretary Alain del Pascua said it is not enough for the public to identify fake from real news but also "to pinpoint propaganda against truth".
"Let us take for example the recent brouhaha over the use of a toilet room as a faculty room that erupted as striking news during the opening of classes. Many people picked up on the social media post of a teacher in Bacoor National High School and lambasted the school principal, the Department of Education, and eventually Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones," Pascua said.
He explained the lack of faculty room was "due to the fact that the school changed to single shift from two shifts, hence, existing faculty rooms that have been originally constructed as classrooms were reverted back to being instructional rooms" to accommodate more than 7,000 students enrolled in that school.
According to reports, about 225 of the 236 teachers of the schools have transferred to the library, the guidance center and their advisory classrooms while the remaining 11 have chosen to convert the comfort rooms into faculty rooms.
"A certain teacher then videotaped and photographed the toilet cum faculty room, wrote that they have been "forced" to transfer to that messy place, and voila! The national media took the post hook line and sinker. That my friends, is the propaganda!" Pascua said.
"Since the teacher and the other 10 who followed her are members of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), comes now the ACT Party-list congressmen giving support and saying that this incident is happening in most of the 47,000 schools nationwide! ACT launched a media blitz and flooded social media with posts, reposts, tweets, retweets, interviews and press releases one after another... so the propaganda eventually drowned the truth," he added.
Pascua clarified that only 11 out of 236 or 4.66 percent of that school's teaching force, and one out of 47,000 schools or just 0.002 percent of all schools nationwide was affected.
"When Secretary Briones said that the move of the 11 teachers who separated from the 236 other teachers was seemingly intentional to make it more 'dramatic' or 'touchy', everybody ganged up on her and lambasted her as heartless, insensitive, plus all other remarks that are unbelievably coming from supposed teachers who have been taught and are teaching good manners and right conduct," he said, adding that ACT has planned to twist the and blame Briones.
In connection to all these, Pascua said the DepEd is expecting that the issue will escalate alongside calls for teachers’ salary increase and Briones' campaign for pay hike not only for public school teachers but for all government employees.
"ACT would want to show that this government led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his alter ego Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones are not caring but insincere, sinungaling (liar), heartless and all those usual slogans and labels they shout at the streets, and the only solution is for the Secretary to resign and for the President to be ousted!," he added.