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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) insisted on Wednesday, September 27, that a new curriculum policy on the dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand E. Marcos did not seek to revise history.
In the DepEd’s hearing for its proposed P758.6-billion budget for 2024 at the House plenary on Wednesday, Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel and Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman scrutinized the DepEd’s move to remove the name of Marcos in the term “Diktadurang Marcos” in the Grade 6 Araling Panlipunan (AP) program of the new “Matatag” curriculum.
Lagman also asked if the DepEd has been able to comply with a years-old memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to include the atrocities of Martial Law in its basic education curriculum.
Earlier in September, the DepEd confirmed the existence of a memo directing the change of “Diktadurang Marcos” to just “Diktadura” found in the new Grade 6 Matatag curriculum. (READ: Educators slam DepEd’s plan to change ‘Diktadurang Marcos’ in new curriculum)
‘The history tells us so’
Manuel questioned the term change regarding the dictatorship, asking DepEd budget sponsor, House appropriations vice chair Maria Carmen Zamora, whether this would contribute to “state-sponsored disinformation.”
Zamora acknowledged that Marcos’ presidency was a dictatorship, and that the changing of the term only meant to “focus on themes and concepts” instead of individual presidential terms.
“The reason behind the removal of Marcos in the terminology ‘Diktadurang Marcos’ is because of the main consideration to be able to be consistent in the framing of that portion of the new Araling Panlipunan curriculum which is focused on historical themes and concepts and not each presidential term,” she said.
“Any discussion on dictatorship in the Philippines in the 1970s will inevitably point to a discussion on the administration of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.,” she added.
Lagman brought up the same topic in his interpellation, saying that the government should just be calling the dictatorship what it is.
“Whatever presidential term, it is important to call a spade a spade. During that black era it has been known locally, domestically, and internationally as Marcos dictatorship, is it not?” said Lagman.
“The history tells us so… The history would tell us that that is correct,” answered Zamora.
Lagman also asked for an update on the implementation of Republic Act No. 10368, which requires Human, Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission to coordinate with the DepEd to ensure the inclusion of lessons on Martial Law atrocities, and the lives of human rights violations victims.
Zamora answered that the “core messages and content” on Martial Law and human rights have already been integrated into the K-12 curriculum, as well as the revised K-10 curriculum. She claimed the department was compliant with its MOA with the CHR.
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte was the running mate of the dictator’s son President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the 2022 elections.
DepEd stripped of confidential funds
After the budget hearings of the DepEd and Office of the Vice President on Wednesday, House appropriations chair Elizaldy Co confirmed that the two Duterte-led bodies were among the agencies whose confidential funds will be realigned to augment the budgets of security forces tasked to address escalating threats in the West Philippine Sea.
The DepEd previously had a P150-million request for confidential funds, which was defended by Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo at the House appropriations panel.
At the DepEd’s plenary hearing, only Manuel and Lagman asked about the controversial request. Until it was taken away, the DepEd answered with its usual defense – that confidential funds were needed to foster safe and enabling learning environments.
“The department is mandated to provide accessible equitable and quality basic education which necessarily includes the provision of a safe and enabling learning environment. Education and national security are inevitably intertwined. Today, our schools are confronted by several threats on recruitment to terrorist and violent extremist groups,” said Zamora.
“Confidential funds are not necessary. To my mind, Mr. Speaker, no stretch of the imagination will make the use of confidential fund by the DepEd be germane to its mandate and power under the law,” said Lagman.
The OVP and DepEd’s budget briefings were scheduled on Tuesday, September 26, but were rescheduled to Wednesday due to a “conflict in schedule.” – with a report from Dwight de Leon/Rappler.com