Manila: Educators challenge language policy in Supreme Court

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Apr 28 13:35:46 UTC 2007

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Educators challenge language policy in SC

Educators, writers and students trooped to the Supreme Court on Friday to
challenge the Arroyo administrations language policy. They petitioned the
Court to stop the Department of Education from continuing to carry out
Executive Order 210 strengthening the use of English in the school system
at the expense of Filipino and the other Philippine languages. The
petitioners described the policy as both unconstitutional and mistaken.
The petitioners are asking the Court to issue a writ of preliminary
injunction or a temporary restraining ordertelling the administration to
desist from carrying out EO 210 and any of its implementing regulations.

They are also asking the Supreme Court to declare EO 210 and DepEd Order
No. 36, S 2006 null and void, saying these are in violation of the
Constitution. The educators seeking a repeal of EO 210 include Dr.
Patricia Licuanan, president of Miriam College; National Artists
Bienvenido Lumbera and Virgilio Almario; University of the Philippines
sociologist Randolf David;  Isagani R. Cruz, president of WIKA Inc.; and
Efren Abueg, writer in residence at De La Salle University. They are
represented by Pacifico A. Agabin, former dean of the UP College of Law.
The petitioners claim that EO 210 and Department of Education Order No. 36
(which operationalizes EO 210) patently violate Article XIV of the 1987

The Constitution declares Filipino as the national language and mandates
the government to initiate and sustain [its] use . . .as a medium of
official communication and as language of instruction in the educational
system. The educators claimed that the implementation of EO 210 would
emaciate the constitutional policy of propagating the use of Filipino.
They cited a 1991 congressional study to refute both EO 210 and a House
bill with a similar intent, written by Cebu First District Rep. Eduardo
Gullas. HB 4701 on Strengthening and Enhancing the Use of English as the
Medium of Instruction in Philippine Schools, certified as urgent by
President Arroyo, passed the House but was not acted on by the Senate in
the Thirteenth Congress. The Gullas bill goes against the findings of a
Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom) in 1991.

The commission--made up of 10 senators and congressmen, and chaired by
Sen.  Edgardo J. Angara--recommended specifically that Congress make the
vernacular and Filipino the medium of instruction for basic education. The
Edcom report, written after an 11-month study, became the basis for reform
laws that restructured the Department of Education and created a separate
commission to supervise higher education. Edcom also ordered the DepEd to
develop instructional materials in Filipino. It envisioned that all
subjects in elementary and high-school education--except English and other
languages--would be taught in Filipino by the year 2000.


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