By Vann Marlo M. Villegas
GOVERNMENT officials slammed the Supreme Court (SC) decision which declared as constitutional the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) order excluding Filipino as a core subject in college.
In a statement, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said, “We can see these days among the youth the lack of grasp of the Filipino language and by removing this as a core subject in college or any other school level, I fear this would deteriorate even further. The Filipino language is part of our identity as a people and as such we should strive to preserve and strengthen this at all times.”
He also said the SC ruling is “against the spirit” of Section 6, Article 14 of the Constitution which states that “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.”
For his part, Commission on Elections spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the Philippines’ would “lose its soul” with the exclusion of Filipino among the core subjects.
“The elimination of Filipino as a core curriculum subject is a mistake. Some will argue that there is no economic benefit to teaching it in college, but what does it profit a nation to gain the whole world but lose its soul?” he said in a Twitter post.
In a decision dated Oct. 9, the SC declared as constitutional and lifted the temporary restraining order issued on April 21, 2015 against CHEd Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 20, series of 2013 which excluded Filipino, Panitikan, and Philippine Constitution among the core subjects in the general education curriculum in college.
The petition against the CHEd order said it violates Section 6, Article 14 of the Constitution. But the SC said “these constitutional provisions are only policies that may be ‘used by the judiciary as aids or as guides in the exercise of its power of judicial review, and by the legislature in its enactment of laws.”’
It also added that CMO No. 20 “only provides for the minimum standards for the GE component of all degree programs.”
The high court also said the assailed CHEd memorandum does not violate any existing laws such as Republic Act (RA) No. 7104 or the Commission on the Filipino Language Act, RA No. 7356 or the Law Creating the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Education Act of 1982.
“It must be noted that nothing in these laws requires that Filipino and Panitikan must be included as subjects in the tertiary level. Further, as already established, it is within the authority of the CHEd to determine the GE distribution requirements,” the decision read.
In the same decision, the SC also declared K to 12 Law as constitutional.
In a Nov. 13 statement, CHEd Commissioner J. Prospero E. De Vera III said the commission respects the decision of the SC and will wait for its final decision on the issue, citing news reports that the groups opposed to the court ruling may file their motions for reconsideration.
He also stated that the incumbent commissioners were not yet in office when the order was issued on June 28, 2013 “and therefore were not privy to the context and discussions that were the basis” of the CHED memorandum.
“The Commission will continue to uphold the rule of law, study the issues raised by education stakeholders and await the final decision of the Supreme Court,” he said.