education in the Philippines

[OPINION] The insidious indoctrination initiative

Dean de la Paz

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[OPINION] The insidious indoctrination initiative

Guia Abogado/Rappler

'The DepEd’s raw exercise of autocratic power is neither trivial nor harmless'

At first, it seemed like the usual propensity of bureaucrats to dwell on trivialities, inundating any substantive discourse on their failed performance with mountains of irrelevance. The order of education officials that school classrooms be as spartan as military barracks counts as one of those. Seemingly trivial, it is spun as a solution to our festering 91% learning poverty. It is also seemingly harmless relative to grander concerns relating to the miseducation of the Filipino.

But it is no solution and is neither trivial nor harmless.

The directive to rid schoolchildren’s classrooms of any artistic expressions, awards, bulletin boards, reminders, incentive and inspirational posters, decorations, or teaching aids and fixtures featuring liberal learning, will turn what schoolchildren once revered as inviolate rooms of learning spartan, devoid of inspiration, and as antiseptic as a morgue.

Unfortunately, the assault on sacred freedoms of expression and free speech is only the latest in a series of autocratic fiat inflicted across a slew of government bureaucracies. What seems like an unthinking inclination to project an image of frenzied activity to justify an indefensible and immoral allocation of secret funds for the Department of Education (DepEd) can be seen in an altogether darker light. And the more we view other profoundly indoctrinate initiatives under the Marcos government, that light gets darker and darker.

The reason given for creating spartan classrooms was that other learning devices that create an overall intellect friendly environment might distract from reading and writing where the dismal 91% learning poverty is being blamed on dereliction. Unfortunately, the chosen solution is far worse.

Such profundity or its total lack in resorting to a militaristic Draconian measure recalls a solon’s ridiculous declaration that Reserve Officer Training Courses (ROTC) are solutions to the worsening mental health issues among our youth.

Laugh if you will but a grand gambit is apparently afoot. Absent scientific bases save for thought reform (a term that serves as an ode to Mao Zedong’s brainwashing techniques) and other mind control concepts, with roots in the Central Intelligence Agency’s illegal MK-ULTRA human experiments, the DepEd’s raw exercise of autocratic power is neither trivial nor harmless.

On a larger diabolical scale spawned from a remnant of what is perhaps the most crude, crass, and violent regimes since the Marcos dictatorship, this assault on the freedom of expression and academic freedom is only the latest among insidious initiatives designed to control young impressionable minds.

Spawned from the political bureaucracy, its goal is undeniable where the whole hierarchy seems to have its foundations on a mandate based on wholesale electronic fraud. Once more Robespierre’s truism turns most apt: “The secret of tyranny is in keeping (the people) ignorant.”

Like invasive pestilence the initiative hides behind false facades. Think of termites and imagine these destructive armies of mindless insects burrowing behind the woodwork, there, slowly eating away at the structural timber that form the beams and trusses of the house we call our democracy.

Falsely peddled as an education initiative, its goal it seems is farthest from educating or instilling among the youth critical thinking basic and necessary for true democracy.

Closer perhaps to a Pavlovian experiment in controlling behavior to establish subservience sans consent nor understanding, think of the unquestioning canine loyalty in a military chain of command. While appropriate and expedient under battlefield conditions, it is undemocratic.

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If the extended metaphor of a termite infestation is apt, discern then its other nests and hives and the specific nature of the indoctrination campaign throughout the bureaucracy.

Amid the perennial shortages of classrooms, the poor pay of teachers, debilitating teacher debts, the lack of quality teaching aids, computers and quality textbooks, libraries, and incentives for children to complete their education, the first announcements out of our education officials were to popularize chains of command by reinstalling ROTC.

Relate this DepEd initiative with the Marcos government’s official Media and Information Literacy (MIL) campaign that is integrated into the higher education curricula of the Commission on Higher Education (CED), and the community-based training and “family-based programs” that necessarily bring into the fold local government units (LGU), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Sangguniang Kabataan units of LGUs, and the National Youth Commission.

Now measure the short umbilical cord of the MIL and these departments to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) where the development of a ‘comprehensive execution plan’ is being devised to address the PCO’s information objectives.

If information control is among its objectives, then far from mere reading, writing, and plain vanilla literacy, the MIL mandate extends well into content and substance from the perspective of the PCO.

Note then a tyranny of ironies. One, there is evidence that the current executive mandate was enabled by massive disinformation. Two, extensive radio and television reach, critical to popular education, are currently in the hands of political entities. Three, Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation is not a priority for Marcos and the impedances and barriers to FOI requests erected by current officials of the Judicial branch remain.

In the legislature the convenience of imposing police powers afforded by the Anti-Terror Law, and following its provisions, the weaponization of “red-tagging,” provide chilling effects on free expression, legitimate media, academic freedom, and throughout all these, critical thinking.

Lawmakers also proposed such ludicrous initiatives as mandatory military service. It was they who provided acquiescent justifications to expand secret intelligence funds to the DepEd and the Office of the Vice President, both now symbiotically if not diabolically linked.

All support the concept that “education is linked to national security.”

Robesspeierean, all conform with Marcos’s Executive Order 37 where all National Government Agencies (NGA) must align all activities to the National Security Program 2023-2028 (NSP) where Marcos is the final approving authority.

It now makes sense. Children’s classrooms must be spartan. Where ancient Athens and its Atheneum were centers of culture, philosophy, intellect, and learning, Sparta focused on creating soldiers from their youth. –

Dean de la Paz is a former investment banker and managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance, and Mathematics professor. He collects Godzilla figures and antique tin robots.

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  1. ET

    Thanks to Dean De La Paz for this very enlightening article. Indeed, the Marcos-Duterte Disinformation-Repression-Corruption Machinery is now accelerating to gain full speed!

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