The latest memorandum orders public and private higher education institutions to implement CMO No. 59 series of 1996, requiring nine units of Filipino and six units of Literature and CMO No. 4 series of 1997, which also requires six units of Filipino and nine units of Humanities.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — They fought hard and won. For now.
The group of Filipino language defenders, Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wika (Tanggol Wika), along with ACT Teachers Partylist had again declared victory in their fight to retain Filipino language subjects in the college curriculum, with the latest memorandum issued by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), which puts back six to nine units of Filipino subjects.
Ched chairperson Patricia Licuanan issued a memorandum on July 18 giving “clarification” on the implementation of its Memorandum Order No. 20 (CMO 20), which had been suspended by the Supreme Court in April 2015. The high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on CMO 20 in favor of a petition filed by Tanggol Wika. Licuanan’s new memo was in compliance with the TRO.
The compliance of the Ched to the order of the Supreme Court to put back Filipino subjects in college until it issues a decision on the matter is a victory, albeit temporary, not only for teachers, students and advocates of the Filipino language but also for the preservation and development of Philippine culture.
CMO 20, or the General Education Curriculum Holistic Understandings Intellectual and Civic Competencies, is part of the implementation of the government’s K to 12 program, and abolishes the Filipino language, literature, Philippine government and Constitution as mandatory general education subjects in college.
The latest memorandum orders public and private higher education institutions to implement CMO No. 59 series of 1996 requiring nine units of Filipino and six units of Literature and CMO No. 4 series of 1997 which also requires six units of Filipino and nine units of Humanities.
Ched issued the clarification following Licuanan’s dialogue with ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio, Tanggol Wika conveners, and leaders of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (Cotescup) on July 13.
Despite the new memorandum, the groups said their fight to fully return Filipino language subjects in college still continues, as the SC is set to finally resolve their petition this month or in August.
‘Mass layoffs and closure would have been prevented’
The three groups had received reports of mass lay-offs of Filipino subject teachers and dissolution of Filipino departments in many colleges across the country, despite the TRO issued by the Supreme Court.
Tinio said these would have been prevented had Ched complied with the TRO. Several Filipino teachers in college were among those who were retrenched before academic year 2016-2017 started, he said.
Meanwhile, he urged Ched to be proactive and ensure that the TRO will be implemented. Higher education institutions should also ensure the teaching of Filipino subjects and the reopening of the closed Filipino departments and programs, he added.
DOLE to ‘fast-track’ resolution on teachers’ illegal dismissal, other cases
Tinio, Cotescup and leaders of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in private schools and universities also had a dialogue with the Department of Labor and Employment on July 19. A statement by ACT Teachers’ Partylist said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III gave his commitment to act on the complaint by two teachers of Miriam College who were retrenched due to K to 12. Bello also vowed to check similar cases of teachers in other private colleges.
Both Ched and DOLE “committed to amend their guidelines on scholarships, grants, the Adjustment Measures Program, and other assistance programs for displaced faculty, to extend aid to those no longer attached to any HEI, streamline the procedure, among others,” Tinio added.
The government agencies also guaranteed to make necessary inter-agency interventions with the Department of Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to address the labor implications of K to 12.
‘Collective action works’
Tinio lauded the “return of the national language in our colleges and universities” even if the implementation was belated.
“Tagumpay ito para sa mamamayan, para sa pagpapayabong at pagpapalawak ng kulturang Filipino, isang handog lalo na’t paparating na ang Buwan ng Wika sa Agosto,” he said.
“Small as it is, this victory is a testament to the historical fact that the people united will never be defeated,” said Tanggol Wika in a statement.
“Collective action works,” said the group, as their steadfastness in filing petitions, holding series of rallies, dialogues, assemblies and forums were their “weapons against unjust and illogical government policies.”
“Imagine if we will all unite for other more significant causes such as tax reform, anti-contractualization, land reform, wage hike, industrialization etc. It is always better when we do it together,” Tanggol Wika said.