Bill on mandatory voters’ education hits snag
MANILA, Philippines – The bill making voters’ education mandatory in schools hit a snag in Monday’s Lower house hearing after an education official raised questions over its necessity.
During the basic education and committee hearing, Department of Education (DepEd) assistant secretary Tonisito Umali said the bill may no longer be necessary, especially as voters’ education was touched in “Araling Panlipunan” (Social Studies).
The subject supposedly taught the constitutional elective offices as well as the voters’ registration process.
“Baka hindi na kailangan (It may not be necessary) ,” said Umali, when asked by the committee chairperson Pangasinan representative Kim Cojuangco if the DepEd deems the bill necessary.
This made the solons uncomfortable if there is still a need to legislate a system already in place.
“We are just trying to avoid redundancy. It is already there. It is already happening,” Cojuangco said.
House bill 260 filed by Parañaque city Rep. Eric Olivarez calls for an integration of the voters’ education to the curriculum instead of creating separate subject.
Umali added that a law may limit the DepEd in becoming flexible in its curriculum, especially as the elections system is constantly evolving.
He pointed out that the Philippine elections just became automated from being ballot-based.
“Baka hindi maganda na we legislate the curriculum. Paano po magiging flexible pag dumating ang panahon na hindi na kailangan ang balota?” he said.
(It may not be ideal to legislate the curriculum. The DepEd may not be flexible. What if the times comes that ballot-based voting is no longer relevant?)
Also present at the hearing, a bothered Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez defended the measure.
He said the curriculum still fell short in promoting voters’ education since some teachers were not willing to teach it in their subjects.
“They are already saying that teachers are doing this. But are they specifically training teachers for voters’ education. They are not,” Jimenez said.
He added that the bill provides for training on teachers for voters’ education.
The bill’s author Olivarez said there is still a need to legislate voters’ education because the current curriculum still fails to meet the objectives of the measure.
The House panel deferred voting on the bill, asking both Comelec and DepEd to submit their position papers in the next hearing.