Educators on Monday maintained the exclusion of Filipino, Panitikan and the Constitution as required subjects in college will do no good for “our culture.”
At a media conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, Vladimeir Gonzales, a UP professor from the Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas, said with the Supreme Court’s lifting of a temporary restraining order affirming a memorandum of the Commission on Higher Education to remove Filipino, Panitikan and Constitution in the general education curriculum, “the [high] court is killing our [mother] language and literature.”
“On Nov 26, we will be filing our motion for reconsideration,” he told the Manila Standard.
“The Temporary Restraining Order dated April 21, 2015 issued in G.R. No. 217451 is hereby lifted,” the Supreme Court’s Oct. 9 unanimous en banc decision read.
In a related development:
• In the Senate, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros called on the Commission on Higher Education to reexamine its move to remove Filipino, Panitikan (literature), and Constitution from the college level, saying removing these subjects endangered Filipino culture and identity.
She noted that “we need our language in all levels of education,” adding “I can understand some of the reasons for suggesting their removal, but I believe that in the long run, the loss of these subjects at the college level will be detrimental.”
The opposition senator said that Filipino, as the national language, should be preserved not only as a tool for work but also as a means of discourse, cultural expression and a language for advanced research into our culture.
Many observers have noted that the Filipino being used is, in fact, Tagalog, which should only be the basis of the national language—a scenario which has angered and disappointed other major regional language experts.
In the 94-page ponencia, Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, in an en banc, declared K-12 [program] constitutional and lifted the TRO against CHED’s Memorandum Order 20 excluding Filipino and Pantikan as core courses in college.
The Supreme Court also excluded the Constitution subject.
Advocates, however, said the removal of Filipino from the curriculum in college violated Section 6, Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution.
Under the provision, “the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.”
Gonzales raised concern that the high court’s decision could result in the loss of jobs for Filipino teachers and professors, “who were asked three years ago to take a leave to study or teach high school students in the meantime.”
“A syllabus was even crafted for the return of the teachers to teach the Filipino subject,” he said.
Gonzales was joined by representatives of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines, UP Sentro ng Wikang Filipino-Diliman and Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wika during the conference.
According to Gonzales, their groups had requested a dialogue with CHED chairperson Prospero de Vera III, also a UP professor, next week.
“I believe Dr. De Vera will listen to us,” he said.
“Several senators and other lawmakers, as well as the media, support our advocacy. As a whole, we are expecting a positive response from CHED,” he added.
She said the Supreme Court recently upheld as constitutional the order of CHED to remove the mandatory Filipino subjects in the college curriculum.
The high court previously blocked the CHED order through a temporary restraining order.
Some advocacy groups have also warned that the removal of the subjects would result in the loss of work for thousands of Filipino teachers.
Media reports say that CHED will wait for the SC’s final decision before implementing the removal.
“I ask the Commission on Higher Education to seriously reconsider and review its decision because our language shapes our reality. And I believe that it is possible for the Filipino to become globally competitive without sacrificing our skill in our own language,” Hontiveros said.
Senator Paolo Aquino questioned the Supreme Court’s decision excluding Panitikan and Filipino as core subjects in college, saying “we should strengthen our Filipino identity and appreciation for our national language.”
Aquino said it was in his college years that he became more aware of the country’s needs, and he emphasized that Filipino literature could help deepen the youth’s love and appreciation for the struggles, revolutions, and victories of fellow Filipinos.
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