Filipino and “Panitikan” (literature) subjects would remain as part of the revised General Education curriculum after the Commission on Higher Education ordered all higher education institutions to retain them following a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court last year.
CHED Memorandum Order No. 57, series of 2017, signed by Chairperson Patricia Licuanan on June 16 (Friday), asked the HEIs to comply with the resolution issued by the high court on G.R. 217451 (Lumbera et.al., vs. President Aquino et.al.) last April 21, 2015 which enjoins the CHED from implementing provisions of CMO No. 20, s.2013 “insofar as it excluded from the curriculum for college Filipino and Panitikan as core courses.”
As per CMO 59, s.1996, students with fields of study related to Humanities, Social Sciences and Communication should be taking 9 units of Filipino and Panitikan subjects; while those in other fields may instead opt for 6 units of Filipino and Panitikan.
“Failure to comply may be construed as a direct or indirect violation of the TRO with possible sanctions by the Supreme Court,” Licuanan said in the CMO.
With the revised GE curriculum to take full effect by A.Y. 2018-2019, Commissioner Prospero de Vera said that the state higher education regulatory body has yet to discuss whether to push for an appeal of the earlier decision of the high court and may wait until the SC discusses it formally.
“We will wait for the Supreme Court to actually hear the issue because we want to look at all the angles of it,” Commissioner Prospero de Vera III said in a Palace news briefing.
“So the Commission has not discussed or taken up the issue yet because this was before our time,” he said. “We’ll wait for the procedure of the Supreme Court to commence. Anyway, as long as the Supreme Court has not taken out the TRO, then it’s still part of the curriculum.”
Tanggol Wika—a broad alliance of educators from more than 40 colleges and universities in the country, had earlier expressed opposition to CMO 20, s.2013, saying that it is an “attack against the national language.”
Despite the move to reinstate Filipino in the GE curriculum more than a year since the SC issued a TRO, De Vera, however, said that it would be up to the decision of HEIs whether they would revive the Filipino departments that were dissolved after they were removed following the implementation of the questioned CHED order.
“That’s really up to the individual universities to work out because these are internal academic matters that is beyond the control of CHED—the Board of Regents of each SUC should deal with the problem and for the private schools, it is guided by the policies of the private universities,” he said.
“So we cannot intervene in the internal governance of higher education institutions,” he added.
In the same news briefing, De Vera announced that while a P8.3-billion allocation for free public higher education covering 113 state universities and colleges will be implemented in the undergraduate level, CHED is unsure whether students enrolled in HEI’s with a socialized tuition scheme could be covered by the new scheme.
In making his point, the CHED commissioner said that many SUCs have yet to report their “underreported” income that would be basis as to how the government would cover the expenses of all the students enrolled.
“There’s a problem when you have a socialized tuition system because you don’t tend to report the lower brackets where students are not paying tuition. You don’t report that as income. But then you have to cover all of them now,” De Vera said.
“We don’t know the extent of the problem until all the enrollment comes in. My own thinking is that it will not be a big problem. Maybe you have couple of universities that have a problem, but majority of the state universities and colleges, the money will be enough to cover everyone,” he said.
“We are anticipating that as this will be implemented, we will see whatever problems will come out and we’ll do the necessary adjustments for the different state universities and colleges.”
For a student to qualify for the initial free tuition scheme, he said that President Rodrigo Duterte specifically instructed that the money “should give priority to poor but deserving students.”
“Our definition of ‘poor and deserving’ is—you are deserving if you are a regular student in a state university or college. Meaning, you complied with the admission and retention requirements of that state university.”
As for the UP system which implements a socialized tuition scheme—De Vera said that its Board of Regents has yet to discuss the issue and the Commission has yet to see the full extent of underreporting in the university.
Potential problems could likewise arise from three SUCs that has a big student population, including Mindanao State University (MSU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and University of the Philippines (UP) resulting from underreported income.
Meanwhile, the Commission has already signed an additional implementing rules and regulations for the P317-million fund “to provide tuition assistance to medical students in eight state universities and colleges”—Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte, University of Northern Philippines in Ilocos Sur, Cagayan State University in Region II, Bicol University in Region V, UP College of Medicine in Metro Manila, West Visayas State University in Iloilo, MSU in Iligan and Tawi-Tawi and the UP School of Health Sciences in Leyte.
“The 317-million tuition assistance for medical students is unique because it provides for a return service agreement. So the students who will apply will have to give back to the country as public service,” he added.