Advocates want SC to stop ‘anti-Filipino’ new GE curriculum

Jee Y. Geronimo
Advocates want SC to stop ‘anti-Filipino’ new GE curriculum
Petitioners say a CHED memorandum that will exclude national language courses from the general education curriculum in colleges violates the Constitution

MANILA, Philippines – Advocates of the Filipino language on Wednesday, April 15, filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the implementation of a government order that will exclude courses on the national language from the general education curriculum in colleges.

The 45-page petition – written in Filipino – is seeking for a writ of certiorari and prohibition, which calls on the High Court to declare that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) acted out of its limits in issuing the Memorandum Order 20 series of 2013.

The memorandum introduced a new general education (GE) curriculum that will be implemented in school year 2018-2019. The new GE, however, will not include Filipino subjects and other “remedial courses” as these will be devolved to senior high school – the additional two years added to basic education because of the K to 12 program.

Critics have referred to the memorandum as an “attack against the national language.”

“The petitioners claim that they were never consulted in the crafting of the assailed CMO,” the Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino/Alliance of Defenders of the Filipino Language (Tanggol Wika) said in an earlier statement released Monday, April 13. 

The writ of certiorari and prohibition sought by the petitioners is based on the alleged “grave abuse of discretion of respondents amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” – the respondents being President Benigno Aquino III and CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan. 

The petition has a long list of backers, including National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, more than 100 college professors from Tanggol Wika, and 3 members of the House of Representatives: Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), Fernando Hicap (Anakpawis), and Terry Ridon (Kabataan).

Memorandum ‘violates laws’

The petition also called on the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction that will prevent the respondents from implementing the memorandum. 

The memorandum allegedly violates constitutional provisions on the “national language, Philippine culture, nationalist education, and labor policy.”

Tanggol Wikais especially worried about thousands of GE professors – including those who teach Filipino – who will be affected by the memorandum. CHED’s worst-case scenario estimates on displacements are as high as 38,071 teaching staff and 14,351 non-teaching staff.

Petitioners also alleged the memorandum violates the following laws:

  • Republic Act 7104 (Commission on the Filipino Language Act)
    • CHED allegedly “usurped” one of the functions of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, which is to formulate language policy. 
  • Republic Act 232 (Education Act of 1982) 
    • Tanggol Wika said that “abolishing the Filipino subjects” means CHED is not complying with RA 232’s provision on a nationalist-oriented GE curriculum in college. 
  • Republic Act 7356 (Law Creating the National Commission for Culture and the Arts)
    • “[The memorandum] does not promote nationhood and cultural education, [as] mandated by the law,” Tanggol Wika said in the statement. 

Tanggol Wikas petition is already the second K to 12-related petition filed before the SC. The first one, which seeks to stop the full implementation of the K to 12 program, was only filed a month ago on March 12.

The SC has already directed the education department to comment on the first petition. (READ: Suspend K to 12? But PH ready for it – Luistro

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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.