DOJ chief warns ‘malicious’ critics of erroneous learning modules
MANILA, Philippines — Be careful when you share your comments online on laughable or horrendously erroneous study modules used by students in the distance learning system in this time of pandemic.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Saturday said people who spread “malicious” claims about error-laden learning materials allegedly printed by the Department of Education (DepEd) may face criminal charges like cyberlibel.
Guevarra issued the warning after Education Secretary Leonor Briones said during a press briefing on Friday that she had sought the help of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in identifying those who maliciously blamed the DepEd for publishing self-learning modules that contained errors.
Briones insisted that some of the modules with spelling and grammatical errors, photos of which had gone viral on social media, were not published by the DepEd central office, but by its division and regional units.
“We have established that in certain instances, there are erroneous modules that are not ours, but are attributed to us,” Briones said.
It was not clear, however, if the DepEd itself could be held responsible for errors in modules produced by its regional offiices, school divisions or even teachers.
Ready to help
Guevarra said the DOJ has yet to receive DepEd’s request for assistance.
“But we will be ready to help if there is evidence tending to show the false and malicious character of these allegations about [its] learning modules,” Guevarra said in a Viber message.
He said he would ask the National Bureau of Investigation to look into Briones’ complaints.
The justice secretary said people on social media sharing “false claims” about the error-filled modules may be held liable for cyberlibel if these allegations were “directly attributed to a certain person with no manifest intent but to ridicule or malign” that person.
The errors found in learning materials of the DepEd and its local divisions quickly became the subject of ridicule and sharp criticisms on various social media platforms.
One learning material that was heavily criticized had directed grade school students to draw 800 stars inside a small box. In another, the color red was described as a shape.
The DepEd produced and distributed self-learning modules after it adopted distance learning in lieu of in-person classes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Last week, the education department drew flak after a teacher in Abra de Ilog town, Occidental Mindoro province, called Angel Locsin an “obese person” in a module on a high school physical education subject, prompting the DepEd to issue a public apology to the outspoken actress.
At least 41 errors
Since classes in public schools opened last month, Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said they have discovered at least 41 errors in published self-learning modules after they launched the DepEd’s Error Watch to monitor flaws in the learning materials.
Of the 41 confirmed errors, San Antonio pointed out that 27 came from locally developed modules that could no longer be retrieved since they had already been used by students.
He said the most common problems were factual errors while others were incorrect computations, misprinting and wrong spelling or grammar.
Some of the modules were printed by the DepEd division and regional offices, which had their own quality control and review mechanisms, San Antonio said.
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