Teachers’ group decries DepEd memo on ‘dictatorship’
MANILA, Philippines — The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend) on Saturday condemned the Department of Education (DepEd) for making a revision in the grade school curriculum to “distort history” by dissociating the 14-year dictatorial rule from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s father and namesake.
A memorandum dated Sept. 6 from the DepEd’s Bureau of Curriculum Development (BCD) said the “nomenclature” for the term “Diktadurang Marcos” (Marcos dictatorship) in the Grade 6 Araling Panlipunan (AP, or Social Studies) curriculum would be changed to plain “Diktadura” (dictatorship).
BCD informed Gina Gonong, DepEd undersecretary for curriculum and teaching, to whom the memo was addressed, that this was meant to comply with a directive from the Curriculum and Teaching Management Committee (CT ManCom).
“The said directive to change the above-mentioned nomenclature was made even after the arduous process of review and revision was done under the guidance and scrutiny of experts, the review of stakeholders, and the public and the launch of the Matatag curriculum,” the memo said.
In a statement, Contend said the DepEd move was intended “to distort history by downplaying the image of Ferdinand E. Marcos as dictator.”
To start in 2026
“This revision by the DepEd is a clear strategy of the current administration to rehabilitate the dark history of the Marcos family. It is also a blatant example of disinformation, where the people are deliberately misled by manipulating historical facts,” said Contend spokesperson Mon Sy, an assistant professor of Philippine Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Four officials of DepEd signed the memo: Rosalie Masilang, supervising education program specialist, and senior education program specialists Rowel Padernal, Michael Cabrera, and Cherry Gil Mendoza.
It was “noted” by Isabel Victorino, chief education program specialist, Director III Samuel Soliven, and Director IV Jocelyn Andaya.
The Inquirer reached out to DepEd spokesperson Undersecretary Michael Poa and Assistant Secretary Francis Cesar Bringas for comment on the memo and the reasons for the revision but received no response as of Saturday evening.
The revised Grade 6 curriculum will be implemented starting in school year 2026-2027 under the Matatag curriculum launched on Aug. 10 by Vice President Sara Duterte, who also serves as education secretary.
Grade 6 students will delve into the Marcos dictatorship during the third quarter of the school year. That period of study would be called “Mga Hamon at Tunguhin Bilang Isang Malayang Bansa (1946-1986)” (Challenges and Goals As a Free Nation).
The Matatag curriculum is aimed at giving students “an understanding of the political, economic and sociocultural issues the Filipinos experienced” after World War II up to the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Prior to the planned revision, the Grade 6 AP curriculum guide mentions “diktadura” five times, and “Diktadurang Marcos” twice — in “Hamon sa Demokrasya/Diktadurang Marcos” (Challenges to Democracy/Marcos Dictatorship) and “Mga pagkilos laban sa Diktadurang Marcos” (Movements Against the Marcos Dictatorship).
“Aside from the political motives behind this move, there is no empirical data to support DepEd’s decision,” Contend said in its statement.
It called on fellow teachers to “reject this atrocious move” by DepEd and seek transparency in the revision of curriculums.
“We also demand accountability from VP Sara Duterte who, on top of her relentless Red-tagging spree, has been an instrument of the Marcoses in state-sponsored historical distortions,” it said.
Marcos Sr. imposed nationwide martial law in September 1972, a year before his second term was to expire.
He padlocked Congress, shut down nearly all the newspapers and broadcast networks and rounded up opposition leaders, critics and activists. He ruled by decree until February 1986 when he was ousted by the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Thousands fell victims to human rights violations, including massacres, torture and enforced disappearances, committed by state forces in the name of national security and in fighting the communist insurgency and the Muslim rebellion.
The economy was in shambles by the time Marcos fled Malacañang. The new government of President Corazon Aquino found that billions of pesos of the people’s money had been plundered and efforts to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family continues to this day.
House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro of ACT Teachers party list also denounced DepEd’s move.
Castro, an opposition lawmaker belonging to the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, said DepEd was attempting to erase the dictator’s culpability during his one-man rule.
“The decision to remove ‘Marcos’ from the term ‘Diktadurang Marcos’ is a clear revision of history and an insult to the countless victims of human rights abuses and atrocities committed during the martial law period,” Castro said in a statement.
Castro pressed DepEd to rescind its directive.
She said DepEd’s move was a “betrayal of the pursuit of justice and accountability” for the victims of the Marcos dictatorship.
“This is a clear violation of Republic Act [No.] 10368, or the 2013 Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act, and the DepEd should know this,” she said.
The law, enacted during the term of the late President Benigno Aquino III, mandated compensation for victims of the dictatorship’s atrocities and the establishment of a museum to honor their memory.
At least 11,103 victims of human rights violations have been officially recognized.
“It is our responsibility to uphold the memory of those who suffered and to ensure that the lessons of the past are learned, so that we can prevent the repetition of such grave injustices,” Castro said.
In September last year, President Marcos said “there’s no reason to revise history” for their sake since his family had long acknowledged the dark side of his father’s 20-year rule.
“We recognized the problems that happened, the abuses that occurred like in any war. All of these are some things that are already part of history,” he said.
Marcos’ sister, Sen. Imee Marcos, rejected allegations that they were seeking to revise history, saying that their family just wanted to “tell (their) side of the story.”