An opposition leader in the House of Representatives on Tuesday dismissed as “unconstitutional and anti-youth” the Supreme Court’s decision to downgrade Filipino and Philippine literature (panitikan) to an elective or optional subject in college.
“Language involves muscle memory. You lose it if you do not use it,” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said, citing Section 6 of Article XIV of the Constitution which, he said, categorically mandates that the “national language of the Philippines is Filipino.”
“Contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court, the aforesaid provision does not need an implementing statute for its enforcement,” Lagman said.
“It is an aberration that the teaching of Filipino, which is the national language, is only elective while teaching of a foreign language like English is compulsory,” he added.
“What the Constitution provides for voluntary and optional teaching is Spanish and Arabic, not Filipino,” he said.
Lagman also said it is an unacceptable argument that the required teaching of Filipino and Philippine literature in the tertiary level is a duplication of what is being taught in elementary and high school as instruction of Filipino and Philippine literature in college is more advanced, intense, and incisive.
“Demoting Filipino and Philippine literature in college as elective subjects is also anti-youth because it deprives young people from truly imbibing Philippine history and culture, and practicing nationalism and patriotism,” Lagman said.
He said enshrining Filipino as the national language is complemented by the following constitutional provisions: Section 17 on State Policies which provides that the “State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress and promote total human liberation and development”; and Section 3 (2) of Article XIV provides that all educational institutions “shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, and appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country x x x”.
“There is no alternative to fostering and inculcating nationalism and patriotism other than teaching Filipino and Philippine literature,” Lagman pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) clarified that Korean language is not a replacement for Filipino language in the school curricula.
Reports said 10 selected schools in the country have started to teach “Hangeul” or Korean language in class.
This drew flak from netizens because many thought that it would replace or totally scrap the Filipino language in school curriculum.
“Again Korean is an elective and special program na dinagdag po natin sa mga foreign language na existing na noong 2009 pa. Again ano po iyong 5? German, Mandarin, Nihonggo, French and Spanish; and now we have Korean,” explained Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla.
DepEd argued that from kindergarten until the students reach Grade 3, the medium of instruction is the mother tongue, which is Filipino, and other local dialects for some subjects in schools.
This is in contrast to the claims and opinions of many on social media.
In fact, DepEd said, they have been consistent in strengthening and promoting the Filipino language to school children and teen students.
“Hindi po papalitan ng Korean language ang ating Filipino language. Definitely not because the Department of Education is enhancing and improving our Filipino and panitikan as a core subject. So, major po iyan; walang bata na magtatapos ng K12 na hindi nag-aaral ng Filipino at panitikan kasi siya po ay core subjects,” Sevilla said.
Sevilla noted that aside from the Filipino language, two other subjects use Filipino as a medium of instruction and these are Araling Panlipunan which discusses culture and history of the Philippines; and the Values Formation which, by the name itself, deals with good values practiced by Filipinos. With PNA