Voting 240-3-2, the House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill 6717 that will suspend the implementation of the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction for students in kindergarten to Grade 3.
A press release from the Speaker's office said that this is meant to address the lack of learning materials on mother tongue language in schools.
The bill, however, mandates that Filipino Sign Language shall remain the medium of instruction for students with related disabilities, and allows the continued implementation of the mother tongue in schools where it has been assessed to be effective.
Section 2 of the bill mandates the Department of Education (DepEd) to coordinate with the Komisyon sa Wikang Pilipino (KWF) in the development of books, teaching materials, and other supplies necessary in the implementation of the use of the mother tongue language.
The two agencies are also mandated to certify the appropriateness and capacity of all local school districts to use the mother tongue language as mode of instruction.
The bill provides for the automatic repeal of the measure upon the approval of Congress of the assessment report and the certification of DepEd on the readiness of all the school districts to implement the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction.
The only people who voted against the measure were House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teacher's party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel.
"Bumoboto ng 'no' ang kinatawang ito dahil imbis na ibitin sa hangin at kawalan ng kasiguruhan ang paggamit ng mother tongue o L1 bilang medium of instruction, dapat nga na irebyu ito," Castro said.
The lawmaker explained that the root of the problem should be determined, and teachers and education stakeholders' pleas should be heard.
"Masasayang ang mga efforts ng researchers, education institutions, at iba pang nagbuhos ng pagod, kasanayan, expertise, at maging sariling pera upang makapag-develop lamang ng learning materials. Ito ang malakas na reklamong ipinaabot nila, dahil marami sa kanila ay nasa districts na hindi 'certified ready' o malabong ma-certify ng DepEd na 'ready' dahil kunwari, walang program supervisor o trained teachers para sa partikular na mga lenggwahe," Castro said.
The congresswoman noted that the House committee was "flooded" with papers and scientific findings from organizations and departments citing reasons against the suspension and evidence on how the use of mother tongue as a medium positively affects the learning outcomes of children.
Meanwhile, Rep. Raoul Manuel said they did not vote for the measure as their party-list believes that it is not necessary to stop or suspend the use of the mother tongue for the children's studies.
"Ang pagpapatuloy ng pagpapatupad nito ay mahalaga upang tuloy-tuloy na makabawi mula sa learning poverty na naranasan sa gitna ng pandemya, at para makita ang mga puwang na kailangang punan ng DepEd at KWF sa paggamit nito," Manuel said.
The bill will be submitted to the Senate for action.