Thoughts on the Commision on the Filipino Language
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Republic Act 7104 signed by President Corazon Aquino in 1991 created the Commission on the Filipino Language (Komisyon sa Wikang Pilipino(KWF)). Section 14 of this law describes the mission of this new body :
(a) Formulate policies, plans and programs to ensure the further development, enrichment, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine language;(b) Promulgate rules, regulations and guidelines to implement its policies, plans and programs;(c) Undertake or contract research and other studies to promote the evolution, development, enrichment and eventual standardization of Filipino and other Philippine languages. This will include the collation of works for possible incorporation into a multi-lingual dictionary of words, phrases, idioms, quotations, sayings and other expressions, including words and phrases from other languages now commonly used or included in the lingua franca;(d) Propose guidelines and standards for linguistic forms and expressions in all official communications, publications, textbooks and other reading and teaching materials;(e) Encourage and promote, through a system of incentives, grants and awards, the writing and publication, in Filipino and other Philippine languages, of original works, including textbooks and reference materials in various disciplines;(f) Create and maintain within the Commission a division of transaction which shall encourage through incentives, undertake and vigorously support the translation into Filipino and other Philippine languages of important historical works and cultural traditions of ethnolinguistic groups, laws, resolutions and other legislative enactments, executive issuances, government policy statements and official documents, textbooks and reference materials in various disciplines and other foreign materials which it may deem necessary for education and other purposes;(g) Call on any department, bureau, office, agency or any instrumentality of Government or on any private entity, institution or organization for cooperation and assistance in the performance of its functions, duties and responsibilities;(h) Conduct, at the national, regional and local levels, public hearings, conferences, seminars and other group discussions to identify and help resolve problems and issues involving the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages;(i) Formulate and adopt guidelines, standards and systems for monitoring and reporting on its performance at the national, regional and local levels; and submit to the Office of the President and to Congress an annual progress report on the implementation of its policies, plans and programs;(j) Appoint, subject to the provisions of existing laws, its officials and employees and such other personnel as are necessary for the effective performance of its functions, duties and responsibilities; and dismiss them for cause;(k) Organize and reorganize the structure of the Commission, create or abolish positions, or change the designation of existing positions to meet the changing conditions or as the need therefore arises; Provided, that such changes shall not affect the employment status of the incumbents, reduce their ranks, decrease their salaries or result in their separation from the service; and(l) Perform such other activities which are necessary for the effective exercise of the abovementioned powers, functions, duties and responsibilities.
Its director, Roberto Añonuevo, recently wrote on his blog "Panukalang Pagbabago sa Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino" (Recommended Reforms in the Commission on the Filipino Language). In the article, Añonuevo laments on his perceived failures of the commission. Here are some excerpts:
...Nakalulungkot isiping nabigo ang KWF ng kalukuyang panahon na isagawa ang mga itinatadhana ng batas. Walang malinaw na pambansang patakarang nabuo ang Lupon ng mga Komisyoner sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni Kom. Jose Laderas Santos, at ang ganitong pangyayari’y patutunayan ng mga rekord sa opisina. Nagmungkahi ako ng mga programang pangwika na puwedeng isaalang-alang ng lupon, ngunit ang tinig ng butihing Punong Kom. Santos ay waring nakapangyayari sa lahat at hindi ang lawas kolehiyado. Ang pagbubuo ng mga patakaran at programa ay dapat nakaayon sa saliksik at pag-aaral, ngunit dahil hindi naman ginagampanan ng KWF ang tungkuling magsaliksik hinggil sa Filipino at iba pang wika, umaasa na lamang ang KWF sa mga saliksik ng ibang pangkat at nagpapasiya alinsunod sa anumang itatakda ng pambansang pamahalaan.
Kaya napakahirap hingan ang KWF ng katumbas na opinyon na magtataguyod ng Mother-tongue based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) bilang pamalit sa dating bilingguwal na edukasyong itinatadhana ng Saligang Batas 1987 at sinegundahan ng DECS Order Blg. 52, s. 1987 na may petsang 21 Mayo 1987. Pumasok ang KWF sa patakarang MTB-MLE ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon (at siyang isinusulong ni dating sinibak na Punong Kom. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco at ipinagpatuloy ni Punong Kom. Santos) nang walang malinaw na parametro ng paglahok. Naging parang utusan ang KWF na gumawa lamang ng mga ortograpiya sa 12 pangunahing wika mula sa buong kapuluan; nagrepaso ng ilang teksbuk na itinataguyod ng DepEd at binigyan ng imprimatur ang mga ito kung kinakailangan; at nakilahok sa mga panrehiyon at pambansang seminar. Ngunit hindi iyon sapat, at hindi sapat ang maging pasibo sa usaping pangwika.
Ideal ang MTB-MLE dahil sinisikap nitong turuan ang bata alinsunod sa wikang kinagisnan nito. Gayunman, hindi isinaalang-alang ng mga tagapagtaguyod ng MTB-MLE ang ibang balakid, gaya ng iba’t iba ang wikang kinagisnan ng mga bata na tinipon sa isang silid-aralan at kinakailangang maging polyglot ang guro; na dapat rebisahin ang kurikulum upang umayon sa MTB-MLE at K-12; na kulang ang materyales sa pagtuturo at hindi sapat ang mga pagsasanay sa guro; at kung ang lingguwa prangka, na gaya ng Filipino, ay gagamitin kung sakali’t may pagtatalo kung sa aling wika ituturo ang mga asignatura. Sa ganitong pangyayari, ang KWF sa ayuda ng DepEd ay dapat nagsasagawa ng mga saliksik upang maisaalang-alang sa pagsasakatuparan ng bagong patakarang pangwika at pang-edukasyon, alinsunod sa panrehiyong bisyon sa antas ng ASEAN, kung hindi man Asya-Pasipiko.
Kinakailangang magbalik ang KWF sa seryoso at dibdibang pananaliksik....Añonuevo points out directly that the commission has failed in its research mission. Instead of being proactive in studies on the languages of the Philippines, KWF has relied on other organizations or branches of government to do this work. Instead of acting as an advisory body for drawing national policies on languages, the commission simply waits for what the national government hands out. The KWF has failed to provide input and expert opinion, for example, to the Mother-tongue based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) component of DepEd's K to 12. Instead, the KWF simply served as a tool, providing DepEd with rushed standardized systems (orthography) for 12 major languages used in the Philippines, reviewing some of the new textbooks recommended by DepEd, rubber stamping these if needed, and participating in various regional and national seminars. These, according to Añonuevo, are not enough.
Añonuevo recognizes the importance of mother tongue instruction but he emphasizes the need to identify properly the challenges of such program. And the items he enumerated above are: students in one classroom having different mother tongues, teacher expertise and preparation, subjects need to be revised to match the mother tongue, and lack of teaching and learning resources in mother tongue. The Commission has not been able to guide and shape these programs. Añonuevo continues in article with citing specific instances and programs that raise serious questions of propriety. The successful implementation of DepEd's K to 12 MTB-MLE requires a diligent body of language experts. Unfortunately, according to Añonuevo, that body is not doing its job.