The petitioners asked the Supreme Court to “strike down” the K to 12 law for its violation of the constitutional provisions on the right to education, labor, and economy.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA –A fourth petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) against the K to 12 law was filed before the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday, May 29, by groups under the Suspend K to 12 Alliance.
The petitioners asked the SC to “strike down and declare as unconstitutional the K to 12 law” for its violation of the constitutional provisions on the right to education, labor, economy.
The respondents cited were President Benigno S. Aquino III, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director Joel Villanueva.
The petition had 36 signatories, among them are lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) secretary general France Castro and Jovita Montes, Parents Movement Against K to 12 (Pmak) spokesperson.
No free education
The Alliance asserts that the K to 12 law or the Republic Act 10533 “violates the right to quality education and the right to free secondary education” as provided in Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution.
Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern spokesperson and one of the petitioners, said that as the full-blown implementation of the K to 12 program nears, only a handful of public high schools are ready to facilitate senior high school (SHS). As a result, he said, students will be forced to enroll in private schools.
“Despite the government’s voucher program, parents will still shoulder more out-of-pocket expenses, nullifying the provisions inscribed in our Constitution. K to 12 further enshrines that the privilege of attaining education are only for those who can afford it,” Manano said.
The Parents Movement Against K to 12 (Pmak) together with Salinlahi held a caravan before going to the Supreme Court.
Jovita Montes, Pmak convenor said many schools are not even declared as SHS-ready. DepEd, in its report to Congress, said only 5,800 out of 7,941 public high schools in the Philippines will offer SHS. Up to one million students will not be accommodated, but are encouraged to apply for the DepEd’s voucher program, which will fund the students’ tuition in private high schools.
The petition also said that the K to 12 law “violates the constitutional provision on the State’s full protection for labor, and the right of workers to participate in policy and decision-making” as provided in Article 13 of the Constitution.
They said that up to 80,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel will lose their jobs as universities and colleges will not have freshmen enrollees for two years due to the SHS.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers protested in front of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the National Summit for K to 12 by the Deped was held on May 29.
DepEd said 3,500 stakeholders came to the summit, dubbed “Sa K to 12 Kayang-kaya, Sama-sama.” President Aquino graced the event.
ACT national chairperson Benjamin Valbuena criticized the said event saying that instead of spending thousands or even millions in activities like the summit, DepEd could have used the fund instead to address the shortages in the basic public education like classrooms, health and sanitation facilities, laboratories, libraries, chairs, modules and textbooks. He said these shortages are most pressing concerns that DepEd must address.
“In fact, gimmicks like this cannot hide the truth that K to 12 is just a big mistake as seen in its three years of implementation.”
He also lamented that while activities promoting K to 12 are well-funded, teachers’ mass trainings that were conducted over the past weeks are poorly-funded. Trainings were held in poorly-ventilated venues causing teacher-participants to fall ill.
“We call on Education Secretary Armin Luistro to settle all the expenses incurred by these incidents. We are not buying his reason that there are no available funds for these as seen in DepEd’s wasteful use of money in the promotion of K to 12 used in printing t-shirts, conduct of caravans in different cities and provinces nationwide, tarpaulin printing hanged in different schools and summits just like the one held today. All these activities will not be of help in solving the problems of our education system.”