Teachers question Deped module for ‘sugarcoating’ martial law | Inquirer News

Teachers question Deped module for ‘sugarcoating’ martial law

/ 05:42 AM October 22, 2022

deped sugarcoating martial law

The “rebranding” in public schools of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law as the “period of the new society” began even before his son became president, based on teaching materials of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Southern Tagalog region.

The DepEd module for senior high schools circulating in Marinduque province and verified by the Inquirer characterized the years 1972 to 1980 as a time when economic progress and discipline dominated conversations and “newspapers donned new forms,” without mentioning the press censorship and brutal treatment of critical journalists during that period.


Titled “Geographic, Linguistic and Ethnic Dimensions of Philippine Literary History from Pre-Colonial to the Contemporary,” the module said the “new society” started on Sept. 21, 1972, when Marcos Sr. placed the country under martial law.


“News on economic progress, discipline, culture, tourism, and the like were favored more than the sensationalized reporting of killings, rape, and robberies. Filipinos before were hooked [on] reading magazines and comics,” it said.

Based on the cover page, the module was crafted during the Duterte administration when DepEd was led by Education Secretary Leonor Briones. The module reportedly originated from the agency’s regional office in Calabarzon.

Asked for comment, the DepEd said it was still finalizing its statement on the issue.

The education department earlier denied a social media post claiming that it was planning a rebranding of the Marcos dictatorship in public schools as “Bagong Lipunan,” or new society, a phrase popularized by the late dictator.

But the DepEd learning materials dating back to the previous administration suggest that the effort to paint the martial law years in a positive light happened before President Marcos took office.

The module said the Philippines “became a new nation” during the Third Republic, from 1981 to 1985, following the supposed lifting of military rule in January 1981.


Poems were “romantic and revolutionary” and songs dealt with true-to-life themes of “grief, poverty, aspirations for freedom” during this period, it added.

It described the post-Edsa Revolution era as history taking “another twist,” as the Filipino people regained their independence when the “so-called People Power (Lakas ng Bayan) prevailed.”

The module, excerpts of which are seen in the above screenshots, depicts the Marcos dictatorship as the “period of the newsociety” and glosses over the human rights abuses of that time.

HISTORICAL DENIALISM The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has asked the Department of Education to pull out one of its history modules being taught in schools in Marinduque and other parts of Region IV. The module, excerpts of which are seen in the above screenshots, depicts the Marcos dictatorship as the “period of the newsociety” and glosses over the human rights abuses of that time.

‘Crony’ Inquirer

The DepEd module called the Inquirer, one of the critical publications that emerged during this period, along with Malaya and People’s Journal, “crony newspapers that enjoyed an overnight increase in circulation” after the Edsa Revolution.

On Thursday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers questioned the DepEd on whether the material passed its standards, as it called on the agency to “immediately pull out” the module from its online portals.

Maria Elena Malvar, a Grade 12 student from Marinduque State College Integrated High School, recalled that the lesson about martial law was discussed by her class around September but it was only on Oct. 17 when she noticed her teacher’s slideshow presentation.

Malvar said she looked at the official DepEd module that served as the basis for the presentation and found that the material was supposed to be used for the school year 2021 to 2022.

“That’s when I realized that the rebranding of martial law was not just a rumor because even before President Marcos assumed the presidency, they’re already doing it,” Malvar told the Inquirer.

She said the “historical denialism” in the module was “alarming.”

Philip, a senior high school student from Quezon province who requested anonymity, said his class used the same module.

“I felt something was off… I recall that we were confused [at] that time when this topic was discussed,” he said, adding that the “sugarcoating” of history was “outrageous.”

In the Schools Division of Manila, modules have been undergoing revision since June and writers were given an indirect order to “avoid political colors,” the Inquirer learned.

The same division earlier produced a learning module in philosophy that cast then Vice President Leni Robredo in a negative light because of supposed “character assassination.”

Anne Besin-Laquian, a senior high school teacher in humanities, said this prompted the division to revise the modules.

“We had to revise some of our activities that might give rise to false claims, like those under the topics of martial law, in particular the activity on exercising freedom of speech,” she said in a phone interview.

‘Soften the blow’

One of the module writers who cited the 1986 Edsa Revolution as an example of freedom of expression was asked to “use a different article” or give another example, Laquian said.

“There are proofreaders who will say, ‘wait, apply the brakes here, or let’s weaken this or soften the blow,” she said.

“Even though they won’t directly tell us to change or rebrand the term of martial law as new society or Bagong Lipunan, there is… avoidance of the issue,” the teacher said.

“While it’s not directly distorting history, it’s like softening the blow, which in turn discourages the practice of critical thinking,” Laquian said.


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TAGS: DepEd, History, Martial law, public school

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