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Group asks CJ to take second look into Filipino/Panitikan case



A group which lost a case in the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the official policy on Filipino and Panitikan instruction in higher education institutions has filed a "letter of protest" to Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.

In their letter, the Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino said the SC decision in the case is "patently unjust as it involves the violation of the Constitution's language provisions".

The group clarified that they sent a letter instead of a second motion for reconsideration on the advice of their lawyers.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero E. De Vera III earlier clarified that the SC decision on the controversy showed that the CHED did not abolish Filipino and Panitikan in the General Education Curriculum. Instead, these were transferred to the Senior High School level since these are important building blocks in preparing senior high students to be university-ready when they graduate.

The group, however, claimed the policy "has caused the actual job displacements of hundreds of faculty members in dozens of universities, with the full impact potentially affecting at least 10,000 faculty members in the coming months.

"As the national language is a strong social glue that binds our archipelago, it is not an exaggeration to say our country's survival is also at stake here," the group said.

Last month, the CHED lauded the decisive and timely resolution of the SC to deny the motion for reconsideration to stop the implementation of CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) Number 20, series of 2013, otherwise known as the “General Education Curriculum: Holistic Understandings, Intellectual and Civic Competencies”, in so far as the inclusion of Filipino and Panitikan in the General Education Curriculum of all higher education institutions.

The Order 20, which was issued during the Aquino administration, delisted Filipino and Panitikan as part of the core subjects of the General Education Curriculum.

The SC denied the motion for reconsideration citing the petitioners’ failure to present substantive new arguments.

The Court also said the constitutional mandate of including the study of Filipino was general and did not specify the educational level in which it must be taught and that CMO 20 did not violate the Constitution when it transferred these subjects as part of the curriculum of primary and secondary education.

The court added that the memorandum does not limit the academic freedom of universities and colleges to require additional courses in Filipino, Panitikan and the Constitution in their respective curricula.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) must now exercise their academic freedom to include innovative reforms in their various curricula that may include language proficiency not just in Filipino but also other Philippine languages such as Ilocano, Waray, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Pangasinan, Bicolano, and Asian languages that will make graduates regionally and globally competitive.

CHED will support HEIs that will pursue language innovation and will provide scholarship and professional education assistance to affected Filipino and Panitikan teachers through the K to 12 Transition Program Fund.

Benjamin Pulta / PNA