SC declares K-12 program valid
The government’s K-12 program will push through after the Supreme Court declared as constitutional Republic Act 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.
Under RA 10533, the number of years of basic education was increased to include a year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education and six years of secondary education–four years junior high school and two years of senior high school.
Also declared legal is Republic Act 10157 or the Kindergarten Education Act that institutionalized kindergarten as part of the basic education and a mandatory requirement to be able to enter Grade 1.
The High Court dismissed all the petitions filed against the said laws for their failure to prove that the laws were in violation of the 1987 Constitution and that the laws were enacted with grave abuse of discretion.
“For having failed to show any of the above in the passage of the assailed law and the department issuances, the petitioners’ remedy thus lies not with the Court but with the executive and legislative branches of the government,” the High Court said in the 94-page decision penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Kindergarten and Senior High School
The Supreme Court said no constitutional provision has been violated when Congress made kindergarten and senior high school compulsory because it only provided the minimum standard and that is “elementary education be compulsory.”
The high court even lauded Congress for enacting the K-12 law.
“It is indeed laudable that Congress went beyond the minimum standards and provided mechanism so that its citizens are able to obtain not just elementary education but also kindergarten and high school.”
Limitation in selecting a course
Petitioners said that the additional two years in high school will affect 400,000 to 500,000 Grade 11 students because they will be forced to enrol in private schools that could displace some or more of the students.
But the high court said the allegations of the petitioners are bare.
Under the senior high school curriculum, students can choose among four strands: 1. Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM) strand; 2. Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Strand; 3. Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) Strand and 4. General Academic (GA) Strand.
The high court took note of the government’s preparedness in helping junior high school students continue to senior high school through the voucher program.
On labor and consultations
Petitioners which Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio also argued that the law was passed without public consultations considering that it will mostly affect the lower income Filipinos.
But the high court pointed out that the DepEd conducted regional consultations through Memorandum Nos. 38 and 98 to elicit opinions about the program. It added that Congress itself conducted regional public hearings from 2011 to 2012 which was participated by representatives from parents-teachers organizations, business, public and private schools and local government units.
The high court added that absence of a labor provision in the K-12 law does not make it incomplete because it has been delegated to administrative agencies “to implement the broad policies laid down in a statute by filling in the details which the Congress may not have the opportunity or competence to provide.”
Petitioners also told the high court that instead of implementing the K-12 program, the government should instead prioritize the lack of educators, facilities and materials for students, funding for senior high schools, an ideal student-teacher ratio and salaries of teachers.
But the high court said policy matters are not their concern.
“Government policy is within the exclusive dominion of the political branches of the government. It is not for the Court to look into the wisdom or propriety of legislative determination,” the high court said.
Ten Justices concurred with Justice Caguioa including then Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
On the other hand, Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Alexander Gesmundo are on official business while Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr. is on wellness leave. /muf / jpv
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