KWF's Almario hits universities removing Filipino as a subject

MANILA, Philippines – Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) Chairman Virgilio Almario criticized universities using the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision upholding the validity of a memorandum removing the teaching of Filipino and Panitikan as a reason to stop offering Filipino subjects in college.

In a press conference on Monday, May 27, Almario said this was a misunderstanding of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) memorandum and the High Court’s decision.  The national arist said while the subject would no longer be required in college, universities had the academic freedom to teach them.

Ang malungkot doon, nagagamit yung desisyon ng Supreme Court (SC) para sa saang bagay na wala naman sa kanilang intention. In fact, nililinaw lagi nila na ito ngang CHED memo is just a minimum requirement. Ibig sabihin, hindi ito yung buong requirement, pwede ito dagdagan, bigyan ng iba pang courses, lalo na sa wikang Filipino. Pero yung kabaliktaran ang nangyayari,” Almario said.

(What’s sad is that the Supreme Court decision is being used for something that it did not intend. In fact, it clarified that the CHED memo is just a minimum requirement. This means that this is not the entire requirement and it can be kept, courses can be added, especially in Filipino. But we see the opposite is happening.)

Almario was referring to a SC decision dated March 5, 2019, which reiterated its October 2018 decision upholding as valid the CHED memorandum order (CMO) removing Filipino, Panitikan, and the Philippine Constitution, from core subjects in college.

Almario said while the KWF did not have exact number as to how many schools removed Filipino and Paniktian from their course offerings, it has received reports of 10 schools that would no longer teach the subject.

“Some administrators of colleges and universities betrayed their preference for English and dismantled their Filipino departments. Clearly, these actions were not in the CHED memorandum and more importantly, against the spirit of the language provision in the 1987 Constitution,” KWF added.

Learning instituions. Almario sought to remind universities that they shared the duty of culitivating Filipino as the country's language. 

"Wala namang sinabi ang Supreme Court na patayin ang Filipino. Yung pumapatay hindi yung SC kundi 'yung administrators ng universities and schools. Sila yung nagkukusa kaya tanungin natin sila bakit nila ginagawa yan?" he said. 

(The Supreme Court did not say anything about killing the Filipino language. It's not the SC but the university administrators that will kill Filipino. They are the ones deciding so we're asking them, 'Why are they doing that?')

KWF Director General Katarina Rodriguez said what the SC decision made clear was that while the CHED memo was deemed valid and constitutional, it was the call of schools themselves to either retain or remove Filipino and Panitikan as required subjects.

Ang tanong lang sa SC, may kapangayrihan ba ng CHED na ilabas ang CHED Memo No. 20 batay sa Konstitusyon. At sabi ng SC, oo kasi may kapangyarihan ang CHED na ayusin yung mga batayang kurso sa tertiary,” Rodriguez said.

(The question in the SC was whether or not CHED had the right to issue CHED memo No. 20 based on the Constitution. And the SC said yes because it is part of CHED’s mandate to determine the minimum required subjects in tertiary [level].)

Sana malinaw na ang nagiging choice ay pumunta sa SUC pero hindi yun yung mandate ng CHED Memo 20 at hindi yun yung intention ng Supreme Court (I hope it’s clear that the choice is given to the SUCs and that this was not the mandate of CHED Memo No. 20 or the intention of the Supreme Court),” she added.

Almario urged public universities to take on the responsibility of teaching and cultivating the use of Filipino. He reminded schools that as learning institutions, they shared the role of ensuring the language provision of the 1987 Constitution was upheld.

"Maliwanag na kaya tayo ay nag-create ng national language ay gusto nating magkaroon ng isa pang lenguahe na sariling atin. Pagka meron na tayo, ayaw naman ipadevelop. Yun ang problema," Almario said. 

(We created a national language because we wanted a language of our own. Now that we have it, we don't want to develop it. That's the problem.)

Section 6, Article XIV of the Constitution states that “the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.” – Rappler.com

 

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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