“More people will join our crusade as there will certainly be catastrophic displacements of college teachers in the thousands and the equally catastrophic dropping out of students who cannot afford private education.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — The United Petitioners Against K to 12 (UPAK) will take to the streets to call on the Supreme Court (SC) to act on the petitions filed against the K to 12 program.
The group said the SC should start the oral arguments on eight K to 12-related petitions filed by various groups, and “issue a ruling as soon as possible.” On Monday, Feb. 22, UPAK, Suspend K to 12 Alliance, Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Tanggol Wika), parent leaders of Manila Science High School, Parents’ Advocacy for Children’s Education (PACE) and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) will troop to the SC.
“It’s been almost a year since the first anti-K to 12 petition was filed. We ask the Supreme Court to avert imminent disaster by declaring the K to 12 Law unconstitutional,” protest organizers said in a statement posted on UPAK’s official Facebook page.
Recently, the Manila Science High Schools (MSHS) parents, teachers and students who also filed a petition for a temporary restraining order against K to 12, filed their fourth motion seeking immediate resolution for a TRO. They filed their first urgent motion for resolution in July 2015.
Severo Brillantes, a lawyer and parent of a Grade 10 student and representative of the MSHS petitioners said the students will “suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury of not being admitted to college next school year.” They asked the SC to resolve their motion on the first week of March or before the school year 2015-2016 ends.
‘No reason for the SC not to act’
On Oct. 30, 2015, after four months and three motions for extension, the Solicitor General has finally filed a comment on the consolidated petition against the K to 12 program. However, Brillantes said the SC still has not decided on the petition.
“As it stands now, it is already more than seven months and their prayer for the issuance of a TRO has not even been submitted for Resolution. The earliest petitions against K to 12, which were filed way back in March 2015, will in fact be celebrating already their first anniversary, with no clear resolution in sight as regards their similar prayers for issuance of a TRO,” read the motion by the MSHS community.
If the SC still does not come up with a ruling on March, Brillantes said, the fight still continues. “We will then file a Motion for Reconsideration if it denies our prayer for a TRO. In the meantime, we will be forced to sadly enroll our child to senior high school,” he told Bulatlat in an interview via email.
Voucher system, unconstitutional
Brillantes said under K to 12, private schools “expect to rake millions from government funds channeled to their schools through the voucher system.”
The MSHS community’s motion argued that the voucher system, or the senior high school voucher program of the Department of Education is a violation of the constitutional mandate on the State to provide for free public secondary education and thus of its duty to make education accessible to all.
“That very law, however, admits that DepEd does not have the capacity to offer Grade 11 to all public school students as it provides funding for them to enroll in private schools. The funding however as admitted by Respondents themselves will not cover the entire cost of private education,” the motion read.
According to DepEd website, the senior high school voucher program “is a form of government subsidy which offers discount in school fees when a student enrolls in a private school that offers the senior high school program, starting school year 2016-2017. It is intended for students who completed Grade 10 and wish to pursue senior high school education in private high schools, local universities and colleges, state universities and colleges, and technical and vocational schools.”
The petitioners also said that even with government funding, majority of Filipino students will still not be able to afford private education and be forced to drop out. “This is another reason why the law is unconstitutional as it violates the very purpose it seeks to achieve,” said the petitioners.
Brillantes said in MSHS there is no additional building being constructed to accommodate those who will proceed to senior high school. “There are talks that classes of incoming Grade 7 Students will not only be reduced but the class size will be increased, thereby denying to equally gifted students the opportunity to study at Manila Science. This fact is repeated in so many high schools,” said Brillantes.
The fight continues
The parents of Grade 10 students now only have barely a month to wait if the SC will decide on their favor or if the SC will ever have a ruling on the K to 12 consolidated petitions.
“My apprehension is that the SC will not decide on the merits as it has shown in other cases that it does not always do so. That is why I have prayed for oral arguments, so that I can rebut whatever arguments the SC justices have against our Petition,’ said Brillantes.
“More people will join our crusade as there will certainly be catastrophic displacements of college teachers in the thousands and the equally catastrophic dropping out of students who cannot afford private education. We will certainly see by then that the government is ill prepared for K to 12,” he added.
In April 2015, the SC ruled to stop the implementation of the “Revised General Education Curriculum,” also known as the Commission on Higher Education Department (Ched) Memorandum Order (CMO) 20. No other ruling on the K to 12 petitions has been issued by the high court since then.
But even with the ruling, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Professor and Tanggol Wika convener Marvin Lai said it is being snubbed and disregarded by many colleges and universities. “In a number of schools, whole departments such as the Department of Filipino, were illegally abolished,” said Lai.
The UPAK also calls on all presidentiables to join the clamor against K to 12. The group said whoever wins as president will surely face trouble come June.
“On top of an anti-Filipino curriculum, Noynoy’s K to 12 will displace hundreds of thousands of professors and education sector workers. At least 500,000 public junior high school students will be forced to transfer to a number of for-profit private schools because DepEd admits it is unable to provide enough public school facilities for senior high school. There will be chaos comes June, and we ask everyone to help avert disaster by vigorously showing our collective opposition to K to 12,” the UPAK said in a statement.