MANILA — House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta on Monday said the Department of Education's continued production of textbooks and self-learning modules violates a law.
During a House hearing, Marcoleta said the activity was a "clear circumvention" of Republic Act No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act.
The law states that "within a period of not more than three (3) years from the effectivity of this Act," the department shall "phase out its elementary and secondary textbook publication and distribution functions and shall support the phasing in of private sector publishers to assume these functions here."
"That law specifically ordered DepEd to concentrate on curriculum development and to already avoid producing, manufacturing and procuring books. That was a very clear order by that particular law. But 26 years later, DepEd is still doing this," Marcoleta said.
The National Book Development Board should handle the development and production of learning materials as mandated by the law, he said.
Marcoleta also said when he pointed out that the DepEd was circumventing the law, "they shifted to modules, thinking that the modules are no longer books."
"But the COA [Commission on Audit] also found out that modules and books are similarly situated," he said.
The Book Publishing Industry Development Act, however, does not distinguish between books and modules.
Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali assured Marcoleta that the department was looking into the matter.
The DepEd produced modules as part of its distance-learning program, which was implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January, the department issued guidelines in evaluating self-learning modules that would be developed by public and private entities, and used in public schools for the third and fourth quarter of School Year 2020-2021.