Student slams 'whitewashing' of martial law era in class, modules

Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 19 2022 08:14 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2022 11:23 AM

The late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who placed the Philippines under Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972. ABS-CBN News/file
The late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who placed the Philippines under Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — A senior high student from Marinduque revealed on social media that they were taught in class to refer to the martial law era during the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. as the "Period of the New Society".

"Nauna na ang school namin sa rebranding," Marinduque State College Integrated High School student Maria Elena Malvar said in her tweet on Monday.

Her tweet was a reaction to the news article on the Department of Education's denial that the term "Bagong Lipunan" has been used in the basic education curriculum to refer to the period of martial law.

"Nakita ko, Period of New Society. Tapos ang dates, nakalagay 1972 to 1980. Sabi ko, 'di ba, iyon ang martial law? At naalala ko iyong post na iyon, iyong post about historical revisionism. Sabi ko, 'Hala nangyari na pala!' Akala ko rumors or haka-haka palang," Malvar said in a interview with ABS-CBN News.

Malvar checked with the DepEd module uploaded online and confirmed that the term "Period of the New Society" is the label used to refer to the said period in the country's history. 

The module was crafted for School Year 2021-2022, during the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the said module, the so-called New Society period started on Sept. 21, 1972, or the date when the late dictator, father and namesake of the incumbent president, placed the entire Philippines under martial law.

"Newspapers donned new forms. News on economic progress, discipline, culture, tourism and the like were favored more than the sensationalized reporting of killings, rape, and robberies," the module further says.

Malvar felt the module was a form of "whitewashing" that taught students a "distorted" version of history.

"Mas nakakainis din po isipin na doon sa pag-neglect po nila sa humanities, parang nagiging tool ito para sa regime, para kalimutan ang atrocities of the past and para in-enable ang katiwalian sa gobyerno as of now, sa pagbigay ng maling impormasyon sa mga kabataan. Parang ini-indoctrinate po kasi nila ang mga kabataan," she said.

A senior high school teacher from Manila also said that many facts were "censored" when they were asked to revise the curriculum for the humanities and social sciences strand in June.

"We had this one day of revision. Ginawa iyan. Ang tawag nga namin noong writing ay cleansing and censorship, kasi tiningnan ang bawat module, bawat chapter if there is any mention of martial law, the Marcos era, not just part of martial law but the entire era of former Pres. Marcos Sr., pati EDSA People Power [Revolution]," teacher Anne Besin-Laquian told ABS-CBN News.

Laquian added they were asked "to pick another part of history" to stress to students, and revise some activities or articles that should have been used as references.

"Sa EDSA People Power na activity...ito ay tungkol sa topic na freedom, tinanggal din nila iyon. Topic namin noon ay freedom of speech, expression and how humans should express their feelings as well as beliefs. So tinanggal iyong activity na iyon," she said.

No explanation was given, Laquian said. 

They considered the order as an "understood agreement" since a new administration had begun and they would be particular with these topics, she said.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said these incidents are "alarming", noting that the administration could have been already orchestrating "historical revisionism" in schools.

ACT Partylist Cong. France Castro said teachers have an important role in making sure that students are taught the right version of history.

"Pwede naman itama, itatama lang ang module kasi marami naman talagang modules na may pagkakamali or may errors or distortion kasi iyong panahon na iyon," Castro said.

As of writing, the department has yet to issue a statement on the matter, saying they are still gathering information.

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