We are sad to hear that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Philippine government agency supervising colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning, has decided to remove the study of the Filipino language in the General Education Curriculum. The CHED made this effective removal through its Memorandum Order No. 20, series of 2013 (CMO 20-2013).
The controversial decision of CHED caught the attention of various sectors in the country, including some 30,000 to 80,000 professors and teachers of the Filipino language in secondary and tertiary levels who may lose their jobs or get displaced as a result. The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and its National Committee for Language and Translation (NCLT) immediately protested the CHED’s decision, claiming that it was a clear violation of the Philippine Constitution which mandates the development, promotion and the use of the national language which is Filipino based on Tagalog and embellished with duly accepted words from Ilocos, Visayas and other groups in the country. They urged CHED to include at least 9 mandatory units for Filipino language in the curriculum.
In reaction in Congress, the House of Representatives called for a probe into the removal of mandatory Filipino subjects in the curriculum of tertiary schools. The probe which will begin when the second regular session of the 16th Congress begins on July 28 is sought by lawmakers through House Resolution 1249 by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon. Congress must evaluate the possible effects of the CHED Memorandum Order to students and teachers, said the lawmakers who claimed the CHED’s order is disturbing after they decided to remove Filipino subjects in the tertiary curriculum, contradicting the essence of K-12 program of the government using Filipino or mother tongue languages to make all subjects easily understood.
CMO 20-2013 prescribes a new 36-unit GEC for college students starting academic year 2016-2017. Under this curriculum, the number of GEC units will be reduced from the current 63 units (for humanities and social science majors) or 51 units (for science, engineering and math majors) to only 36 units for all students. As part of the reduction, the current mandatory units for Filipino subjects was removed.
It is ironic that while American colleges and universities like the City College of San Francisco, the University of California in Los Angeles, and the University of Hawaii, among others, have been promoting Filipino culture and language, a Philippine institution like CHED has seemingly lost its sanity by dumping the study of the national language. CHED Chairman Patricia Licuanan and her commissioners should be immediately questioned and if found guilty, removed by President Aquino for their reckless and unconstitutional decision.
It isn’t just about preserving the jobs of our Filipino language teachers. More important than anything, preserving and promoting the language of a nation is paramount to preserving its patrimony.