MANILA – A group of Filipino and Panitikan advocates warned Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin of dire consequences should the Supreme Court stick to its ruling affirming the exclusion of Filipino and Panitikan as core subjects from the college curriculum.
In its letter, the group Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Tanggol Wika) said if the high court affirms its decision, “Filipino and Panitikan will not only be killed as mandatory subjects in college, but Filipino will also be murdered as an effective medium of instruction.”
It said this will go against the Constitution’s “well-defined mandate for Filipino as medium of instruction at all levels of education.”
“We hope to still move the heavens and the earth to stop this imminent cultural genocide, the impending murder of our national language and local literature,” the group added, acknowledging that they filed the letter instead of filing a second motion for reconsideration, which is prohibited under Court rules.
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous vote in October last year, upheld the constitutionality of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum Order No. 20 (CMO 20) which removed Filipino and Panitikan subjects as part of the core college curriculum.
It upheld its ruling in a resolution dated March 5 this year saying CMO 20 did not violate the 1987 Constitution because it merely transferred these subjects to the curriculum of elementary and high schools.
The Court also ruled CMO only provides for the “minimum standards for the general education component of all degree programs” and does not limit the academic freedom of schools to offer additional courses on these subjects.
But Tanggol Wika said CMO 20 prioritizes the English language over Filipino and Panitikan, noting that the teaching of English language is still required in college.
It said this violates the Constitution which mandates Filipino as the primary official language and English as “merely secondary language.” It added the Constitution itself provides that English’s inclusion as official language may even be removed by law.
“It is a travesty to allow CHED to make a regressive move on language policy, when the Constitution mandates forward action, continuous progress in the process of cultivating the national language,” it said.
The group claimed CHED also ignored the opposition of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
The group also warned that around 10,000 faculty members will be affected by the expected job cuts while millions of students will be deprived of their chance to expand and deepen their ability to use the national language “in a more intellectual way.”
The group invoked the words of Simoun, a character in national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel “El Filibusterismo,” who castigated those who favored Spanish over Philippine languages.
“One and all you forget that while a people preserves its language, it preserves the marks of its liberty, as a man preserves his independence while he holds to his own way of thinking. Language is the thought of the peoples,” the group said.
The filing of the protest letter was accompanied by a brief protest action by around 20 members of Tanggol Wika.