SC: Filipino, ‘Panitikan’ no longer core college subjects
Updated @ 12:08 a.m., Nov. 11, 2018
The Supreme Court has ruled that Filipino and Panitikan (Philippine Literature) may now be excluded from the core subjects in college as it upheld the constitutionality of the controversial K-12 law.
The unanimous ruling was dated Oct. 9 but released to the media by the court only on Friday.
The court declared that a Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) memorandum that reduced the general education curriculum to a minimum of 36 units was valid.
CHEd’s Memorandum Order No. 20 Series of 2013 considered Filipino and Panitikan as no longer core subjects.
University and college professors, national artists and lawmakers grouped under Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Tanggol Wika) had argued that the CHEd directive violated the Organic Act of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, the Education Act of 1982 and the Organic Act of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
The court said changes in the General Education (GE) curriculum also ensured that there would be no duplication of subjects in grade school, high school and college.
It said petitioners’ allegations that CHEd “removed” the study of Filipino and Panitikan from the GE curriculum was “incorrect.”
The high tribunal issued a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the new curriculum in 2015. But in ruling to affirm the constitutionality of the K-12 program, it also lifted the order.
Voting 10-0, the high court denied the petitions against the K-12 law, or Republic Act No. 10533, filed by seven groups of teachers, academic organizations, education sector employees, parents, students and legislators, including Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.
The court ruled that the K-12 law was duly enacted, did not constitute an undue delegation of legislative power and did not infringe on constitutional provisions regarding right to education, right of parents to rear their children, the right of persons to choose their profession, academic freedom, right of labor to full protection and the use of Filipino as medium of instruction in the educational system.
It also upheld Republic Act No. 10157, or the Kindergarten Act of 2012, and other issuances of the Department of Education, CHEd, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the labor department that implemented the K-12 basic education program.
“The court, despite its vast powers, will not review the wisdom, merits, or propriety of governmental policies, but will strike them down only on either of two grounds: unconstitutionality or illegality and/or grave abuse of discretion,” it said.
It said the petitioners “failed to show any of the above in the passage of the assailed law and the department issuances” and suggested that they should instead seek remedies from the executive and legislative branches of the government, not the court.
It rejected the arguments that K-12 increased the resource gap by creating more need for resources; that the government did not have enough funds to add two more years of senior high school; that student-teacher ratio was far from ideal; that teachers were lowly paid; and that there was no assurance that senior high school students would get good employment.
It said these were policy matters that were “not the concern of the court.”
Former Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who had pushed for the crafting and implementation of the K-12 program, said he was “very impressed” with the court’s handling of the petitions.
“The decision enshrines many of the positions taken by the DepEd when it formulated and implemented the K-12 reform. It is a reaffirmation of the work of the former DepEd team and the continuing support of the current administration,” Luistro said.
United Petitioners Against K-to-12 and Tanggol Wika slammed the ruling for affirming what they described as an “antinationalist and rotten system” that reeked of neocolonial agenda.
David San Juan of Suspend K-to-12 alliance, one of the petitioners, said they would continue to exhaust all legal and constitutional remedies against the Supreme Court ruling.
San Juan said the Supreme Court decision was influenced by the government’s “attempt to secure the neocolonial restructuring of our education system.”
One criticism against K-12 was that it was supposed to produce employable high school graduates who could serve as cheap labor. —With reports from Krixia Subingsubing and Mariejo S. Ramos
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