Critical thinking can’t be apolitical, teachers tell DepEd | Inquirer News
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Critical thinking can’t be apolitical, teachers tell DepEd

/ 05:40 AM October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — “When we don’t speak against the rampant social injustices, including the proliferation of fake news [about the Marcoses, martial law and the like], we allow them to prosper,” a philosophy teacher from Calamba, Laguna, said in response to a recent Department of Education (DepEd) social media post reminding teachers to be apolitical.

The now-deleted Facebook post quoted Education Secretary Leonor Briones as saying that teachers were prohibited from campaigning for candidates and should not be involved in partisan politics following DepEd Order No. 48, Series of 2018, or the “Prohibition on Electioneering and Partisan Political Activity.”

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But for senior high school philosophy teacher Urayjan Borlaza, being apolitical is “theoretically impossible.”

“We don’t see the point of encouraging us to be apolitical since it’s theoretically impossible and it will only hamper our constitutional rights to free expression,” he told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

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What teachers should avoid instead is being partisan, Borlaza pointed out.

DepEd Order No. 48 indicates that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.”

But the Commission on Elections and the Civil Service Commission’s Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2016, noted that “expressing one’s views on current political problems or issues” cannot be deemed as a partisan political activity.

“Public expressions, opinions or discussions of probable issues in a forthcoming election, or on attributes of or criticisms against probable candidates to be nominated in a forthcoming political party convention” is also excluded from what is considered as electioneering.

Borlaza said expressing one’s personal political views, which could help in widening the understanding of the learners who are also their social media friends, was constitutional.

“It’s an act of charity to the nation when we, teachers, become faithful to our vocation to free the young from ignorance and disinformation even in the realm of social media,” he said.

Kristhean Navales, president of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, said a teacher’s job of teaching critical thinking and identifying what is wrong from right based on verifiable facts will never become apolitical.

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