Two months after it was asked to comment on the petitions against K to 12, the Office of the Solicitor General has again asked for an extension.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – For the second time, parents and teachers of the Manila Science High School (MSHS) asked the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the K to 12 program, as the government has failed to comment on the petitions in more than two months.
In a motion filed on Thursday, Sept. 17, the MSHS community asked the SC to issue a TRO ex parte, or even without the comment from the Office of the Solicitor General.
In their motion, the parents and teachers said the SC will be able to judge based on the arguments that they advanced, that there is “clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution.”
Six petitions for TRO against K to 12 program had been filed in the SC, with the last filed by the MSHS community on June 23. MSHS had asked the high court to let the students take the college entrance exams, to restore the special science curriculum, and to junk another two years of senior high school.
Failure to comment
The petitioners’ lawyer, Severo Brillantes, said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has no valid justification for their repeated motions for extension to file a comment.
On June 30, the SC has issued a resolution requiring respondents to comment on the petitions within 10 days. The MSHS petition was consolidated with other petitions against K to 12.
On July 29, the OSG asked the SC for a 30-day extension for their consolidated comment, or until Sept. 5.
But on Sept. 2, the OSG again filed a motion for extension for another 30 days, or until Oct. 5, citing “heavy pressure of work…in other equally important cases.”
But Brillantes said there is an associate solicitor assigned to comment on each of the petitions against the K to 12 program.
The MSHS petition said the 30-day extension beyond the 10-day standard period for filing of a consolidated comment “is more than enough.”
It added, “The OSG on its own, bound itself to file said consolidated comment on Sept. 5, and thus, it amounts to dereliction of duty on its part not to do so. It cannot use that as an excuse for failing to comply with the period which it has itself set.”
In their first petition, the petitioners asserted that their children who are currently in Grade 10 are all ready to enter college. With this delay, their anxiety remained that their children will not enter college for school year 2016-2017 because K to 12 remains enforced.
The petition was filed in the hope that K to 12 will be suspended in time for students to apply for college entrance exams. The deadline for the application for exams in several universities had already passed, such as in the University of the Philippines, which was on July 28.
The MSHS community said it is “an injustice for the students who will be barred from taking college entrance exams because of a program that has in fact violated the law.” In its petition, they pointed out that K to 12 program was implemented even before it was signed in to law by President Aquino in May 2013.
They also criticized Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro for implementing K to 12 even without an enabling law. They said Luistro had no power to amend Batas Pambansa 232 which provides four years for high school.
The petitioners called Luistro’s actions as “tyranny of the executive and legislative departments,” as the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives did not protest K to 12.
“We are placing our hopes in the SC as the last bulwark of democracy,” Brillantes said.