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The Department of Education (DepEd) reminded Friday its teaching and non-teaching personnel to uphold professionalism and maintain boundaries with learners.

In an interview, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said teachers and non-teaching personnel should not have “friendly relations” with learners outside the classroom setup.

“As a teacher, mayroon talagang line between him or her and the learner (As a teacher, there should be a [clear] line between him or her and the learner). Dapat hindi sila magkaroon ng (there should not be) friendly relations with their learners outside of the learning institution setting dahil nagkakaroon ng bias ‘yung isang tao kapag nagiging kaibigan na niya (because there would be a bias for the person once they become friends),” she said.

Duterte issued the reminder following the release of DepEd Order (DO) 49, an amendment of DO 47 promoting professionalism in the implementation and delivery of basic learning programs and services.

Under DO 49, teachers are expected to “avoid relationships, interaction, and communication, including following social media with learners outside of the school setting, except if they are relatives.”

The DepEd released the amendment amid investigations on several teachers who were allegedly involved in sexual harassment cases against learners.

“This is one of the incidents we have seen, recent incidents, of our teachers going out with their students and they’re involved in, should we say, criminal, not really criminal activities, but they are involved in crime. It’s either they become suspects or victims,” Duterte said in mixed English and Filipino.

The education chief, meanwhile, assured that learners who filed a complaint against teachers in Cavite, in relation to sexual harassment, were also legally assisted.

While the investigation is ongoing, the teachers involved were placed under preventive suspension.

Another incident of a teacher being killed by a learner also alarmed the DepEd.

“So these instances are preventable if our teaching and non-teaching staff in the Department of Education recognized their boundaries,” she added.

Duterte said teachers and learners may still maintain a friendly relationship, but only inside the classroom setting. (PNA)