MANILA (Mabuhay) – A group of teachers and school staff has opposed the Department of Education’s request to the Supreme Court for a 30-day extension to file a comment on a plea against Republic Act 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.
The law gave birth to the controversial K-12 Program that added two more years in high school education.
In a statement on Friday, the “Suspend K-12 Coalition,” composed of 16 groups headed by the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (CoTeSCUP), said the government was duty-bound to respond to the “needs and clamor of its constituency with efficiency, transparency, and integrity.”
“We, as citizens, deserve nothing less but swift, decisive, and conscientious action from government respondents, who in the first place have already been given a 10-day period to respond to our petition, and in consideration of the fact that some schools are already opening senior high school this coming June,” said the group.
In a resolution last March, the high tribunal gave the respondents in the case 10 days from receipt of notice to comment on the CoTeSCUP petition.
The group said the “seeming lack of urgency” on DepEd’s part to comply with the SC’s 10-day deadline to submit a comment was “compounded by propaganda and activities to generate support for the ill-conceived K-12 Law.”
“We challenge government to respect, protect, and fulfill our basic right to a swift, judicious,decide on the constitutionality of the K-12 Law,” it said.
The group claimed the DepEd has been using government funds to “perpetuate false information in pro-K-12 advertisements that tend to mislead innocent citizens.”
The group added that public funds are even being used to finance summer outings of Parents-Teachers Associations to “ostensibly ensure full support to the K-12 program.”
“We lament the stubborn defense of a law that further marginalizes and puts in peril the lives, livelihood, and the future of millions of Filipinos,” the group said.
“The K-12 Law that is now under intense scrutiny on constitutional grounds is literally affecting millions of people – parents and students, teachers and non-teaching personnel both in the public and private sectors and their respective families, and taxpaying citizens whose hard-earned money are financing government programs and projects,” it added.
Apart from the DepEd, also named respondents in the petition were the secretaries of Labor and Employment, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; the chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education; the secretary general of the House of Representatives; and Miriam College.
The petition claimed that with the K-12 Program, education workers are faced with the risk of early separation, forced retirement, constructive dismissal, diminution of salaries and benefits, labor contractualization, and a general threat to self-organization.
The petitioners said the fact that a new legislation is being proposed via House Bill No. 5493, which seeks to “mitigate the adverse impact of the K to 12 Law,” shows that the RA 10533 is “incomplete.”
The House bill seeks to establish the tertiary education transition fund to develop and sustain tertiary education institutions during the transition period of the program.
According to the House bill, more than 70,000 college faculty and non-teaching personnel stand to lose their jobs because of the lack of first year college and second year college enrollees during the transition period starting 2016.
The petitioners said the controversial law failed to provide “full protection to labor and promotion of full employment and equality of employment opportunities, et al,” in alleged violation of Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution.
The group also said the Implementing Rules and Regulations dated September 2013, the Joint Guidelines dated May 2014, and Department of Education Order Memo No. 2 Series of 2015 dated January 2015, which were all formulated based on the law, are against the law and subject school workers to unjust labor practices.
Under the enhanced basic education program of the Department of Education – called K to 12 or Kindergarten plus Grades 1-12 – a student will be required to undergo kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.
The implementation of universal kindergarten began in school year 2011-2012, followed by a new curriculum for Grade 7 in school year 2012-2013.
School year 2016-2017 will mark the nationwide implementation of the Grade 11 curriculum, to be followed by the Grade 12 curriculum in school year 2017-2018. (MNS)