Group seeks SC TRO vs K to 12

Jee Y. Geronimo

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Group seeks SC TRO vs K to 12
A coalition of educators files the petition on grounds of labor woes and the inadequacy of a P29-billion transition fund for K to 12

MANILA, Philippines – A coalition of educators on Thursday, March 12, filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the full implementation of the K to 12 program.

“We, the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (Cotescup), call on the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to issue a Temporary Restraining Order and/or a Writ of Preliminary Injuction and/or Preliminary Mandatory Injuction against Republic Act 10533 otherwise known as the K to 12 Law,” the group said in a statement. 

The group cited 3 grounds for the petition:

  • Labor woes due to K to 12. “In the implementation of this law, education workers face the risk of early separation, forced retirement, constructive dismissal, diminution of salaries and benefits, labor contractualization, and a general threat to self-organization.”
  • Issuances ‘contrary to law and jurisprudence.’ Three issuances from different government agencies “have no basis” under the law “in terms of the provisions on lower compensation (upon transfer to senior high school) and retrenchment.”
  • K to 12 Implementing Rules and Regulations
  • DOLE-DepEd-TESDA-CHED joint guidelines on the implementation of the labor and management component of K to 12
  • Technical working group on the assessment system of K to 12
  • Proposed transition fund ‘inadequate.’ According to Cotescup, House Bill 5493, which creates a tertiary education transition fund of P29 billion ($655,72), is a “palliative measure” that does not appease the worries of education workers who may be displaced because of K to 12. 

With the signing of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, two years have been added to the basic education system of the Philippines. The first batch of students under the program will enter senior high school’s grade 11 in 2016, and grade 12 in 2017. (INFOGRAPHIC: 10 things about K to 12)

Because of this, higher education institutions (HEIs) expect a drop in enrollment during these two years all the way to school year 2021-2022 when things are expected to normalize. 

This will affect workers in HEIs, as worst-case scenario estimates on displacements are as high as 38,071 teaching staff and 14,351 non-teaching staff. (READ: Suspend K to 12? But PH ready for it – Luistro)

In their statement Thursday, CoTeSCUP said K to 12 and 3 government issuances that followed it “constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

“The K to 12 law violates the constitutional rights of education workers,” the group added. 

Luistro: No need for legal remedy

For Education Secretary Armin Luistro, however, it’s not possible for SC to favor the petitioners.

“But we have to respond. I don’t think really there’s anything new that they are bringing up except it’s late in the day,” he told reporters on Thursday after the graduation of Alternative Learning System (ALS) students in the Maximum Security Compound of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

I don’t know kung bakit they’re looking for legal remedy, kasi kami naman, handa kaming hindi lang sagutin, pero humanap ng solusyon kung talagang may problema,” the education secretary said. 

(I don’t know why they’re looking for legal remedy, because we are ready not only to answer but also to look for solutions if there really are problems.)

While opposition to the government program is “nothing new,” Luistro said it will be easier and more helpful if critics are “more specific about numbers” by providing names of faculty members who “might” lose their jobs because of K to 12.

Maraming teachers ang mawawalan ng trabaho. Ang tanong diyan, ilan? Kasi ako may numero – ang numero ko 8,000 [yearly]. Sabi nila masyadong mababa. E ‘di bigyan ‘nyo ako ng listahan ‘nyo kasi if you bring up and surface problems na nothing definite, mahirap humanap ng solusyon,” he added. 

(Many teachers will lose their jobs. The question is, how many? Because I have my numbers – it’s 8,000 [yearly]. They say the number is too low. If so, then they should give me their list because if you bring up and surface problems that are nothing definite, it’s hard to find solutions.)

*US$1 = P44.23

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.