National Artist fights for retention of Filipino subject in college

MANILA, Philippines – A national artist is fighting for the retention of the Filipino subject at tertiary level and has vowed to bring the battle to the Supreme Court, an ABS-CBN report said.

Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Literature and chairman of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) opposed the scrapping of Filipino subject by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in its memorandum which was issued last year.

“There is a possibility we may reach that point,” Almario said in Filipino during an interview with DZMM. “For now, we are discussing matters with college and university officials. Some are just too hard-headed.”

Almario was referring to CHED Memorandum No. 20 Series of 2013 removing the Filipino subject from the General Education Curriculum (GEC) of the tertiary level by 2016 and saying teaching the subject will be limited only to courses like Filipino majors and Education in Filipino majors.

A CHED official explained the removal of the subject is justified since it will be covered in the new K-12 curriculum, specifically in Grades 11 and 12.

“Hangga’t maaari, pagdating mo sa college, mga major subjects na lang,” said CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo. (If possible, when students reached college, they will deal only with major subjects.)

But Almario contended the CHED memo violates the essence of the constitution, saying, “It provides there that we should not just declare Filipino as the national language, we should also ensure that we should spread its use.”

Almario echoes the position of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Language and Translation (NCCA-NCLT), who not only opposed the CHED memo and asked the commission to review it again, but also pushed for the inclusion of nine more mandatory subjects in the college curriculum.

The move was also supported by the Pambansang Samahan sa Linggwistika at Literaturang Filipino, Ink. (PSLLF) by promoting a petition at launched by De La Salle University professor David Michael San Juan urging CHED to reconsider the NCCA-NCLT proposal.

10,000 Filipino teachers could lose permanent job

According to San Juan, the memo also threatens about 10,000 permanent and another 20,000 part-time teaching jobs based on the National Statistics Coordination Board 2012-2013 data.

“The crusade of our professors in nurturing our native language plays a vital role in battling the miseducation of the Filipinos under the colonial system which failed to uplift the lives of the majority,” San Juan explained.

But Malacanang assured assistance will be extended to teachers who faced the threat of losing their jobs because of the implementation of K-12 and the CHED memo.

“The welfare of the teachers are important. We will monitor the developments. We will be doing the necessary steps so that they will not go unemployed,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Meanwhile, a dialogue has taken place early this month between CHED officials and representatives from colleges and universities in Metro Manila to discuss the matter. Another consultative forum has been arranged by the De La Salle University on June 21.