By Merlina Hernando Malipot
“The fight is not yet over!”
Advocates of the Filipino language decried the recent ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) removing the Filipino and Panitikan in college noting that this “will kill our country’s soul.”
Tanggol Wika, an alliance of teachers and other advocates of the Filipino language, said that it will file a motion for reconsideration regarding the teaching of Filipino and Panitikan in college. The SC en banc – in a resolution dated March 5 – upheld its earlier decision after the petitioner failed to “offer any substantial argument” on the case.
In October 2018, the SC said that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) memorandum order (CMO) No. 20 – which removed Filipino, Panitikan, and Philippine Constitution from core subjects in college – was valid. Tanggol Wika noted that they have yet to receive the Supreme Court notice on its motion for reconsideration which was filed in November 2018.
With the SC’s latest decision, Tanggol Wika expressed concern on the number of Filipino teachers who might be displaced. “Teachers – especially part-time ones –could easily lose their teaching loads and/or jobs as soon as some administrators hastily implement the Supreme Court notice,” the group said.
The group lamented the SC’s refusal to give course to its motion for reconsideration. “We believe that justice has not been served by their refusal to amply hear our arguments [and] we reiterate that they should have summoned petitioners to an oral argument, rather than issue a ruling on the basis of quick readings of tons of documents that we have submitted,” Tanggol Wika added.
Despite the SC’s ruling, Tanggol Wika believed that it “can still legally and technically exhaust remedies” at the High Court. “While the Supreme Court’s notice says that the motion for reconsideration that we filed was denied with finality, we believe that there is ample basis to file a second motion for reconsideration, considering that the high court has entertained many second motions for reconsideration on cases which don’t even have national significance,” it added.
With the removal of Filipino and Panitikan as mandatory subjects in college, the group accused CHED and the SC of “cultural genocide.”
Both CHED and the SC, the group said, have “somehow decided to kill our country’s soul, our people’s capacity to think freely, the mark of our liberty and collective consciousness.” It added that “if it will take a second motion for reconsideration to stop this impending cultural genocide, we might as well do it.”
Tanggol Wika argued that the High Court “accepted our main point that indeed, the Constitution’s letter and spirit compel our whole government to support the teaching and propagation” of Filipino and Panitikan. “However, the Supreme Court claims that the constitution does not mention in what level/s these subjects should be taught,” it added.
Thus, the group challenged the SC that rather than dwelling on the “mere letter of the Constitution,” the High Court should “to broaden its horizon and consider the spirit of the constitution, in deciding on this case.”
Tanggol Wika also stressed that the SC “did not even consider or discuss most of our points” and it “ruled on mere technicalities.” The group noted that “within the context of our long colonial past and neocolonial present, we cannot be timid in propagating our own national language and literature.”
“The ravaging tides of globalization and cultural homogenization will surely wipe Filipino and Panitikan out, if we refuse to institutionalize their propagation in our while education system,” the group added. This, it added, is “choice between our collective survival as a nation, and our collective death as a free country.”
Meanwhile, the group called on the CHED and the administrators of colleges and universities nationwide to “refrain from implementing” the SC’s notice, as it “intends to file a second motion for reconsideration, in an effort to exhaust all remedies.”
For the group, the latest decision of the SC on is “another setback” in the country’s education system –noting that K to 12 curriculum, the Philippine History as a subject was also removed in high school and was replaced by Asian Studies.
The group also called upon the Komisyon Sa Wikang Filipino to also “broaden its perspective and seriously consider revising its current stand of merely supporting Filipino as a medium of instruction.” Filipino as a medium of instruction, the group stressed, would “die a natural death absent the cultivation of Filipino and Panitikan subjects in all levels of education.”