Bishop Writes Letter to Supreme Court Regarding DepEd's K to 12

We would not be lamenting the loss of employment of college instructors and staff. We would not be worrying about what is going to happen in the next few months. Inadequate resources in education are about to be stretched even further. Indeed, both government and parents in the Philippines are staring at a problem of our own creation. Education policy makers must draw their plans based on evidence from research. The problems are quite clear. Basic education is failing in the early years. Schools that are supposed to produce teachers in basic education are not performing well. Adding two years to basic education does not solve these problems. DepEd K to 12 would only make the problems of Philippine basic education worse.

How would we get out of this mess? Below is a letter written by the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and is addressed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

March 9, 2016

Chief Justice
Supreme Court of the Philippines

Dear Chief Justice Sereno:

Greetings of Peace.

In May 2015, a group of college professors has approached me to ask for my guidance in regard to the challenges they faced due to the implementation of RA 10533 or the K-12 Law. This group, members of the organization Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (CoTeSCUP), is the lead petitioner for the Temporary Restraining Order against the K-12 law filed at the Supreme Court on March 12, 2015.

In January of this year, this same group informed me that almost a year since the filing of the first petition, no substantial action has been taken by the Supreme Court to resolve the matter, except to have the first petition consolidated with the six other petitions that also questioned the constitutionality of the said law. I have been informed further that during this period, concerned government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), have come up with guidelines and 'safety nets' that have no basis under the law, and severely inadequate to address the loss of income, job security, and academic freedom of college professors and staff. I was also made aware of the ill-preparedness of the government to implemeny the K-12 educational reform, considering the lack of education infrastructure and qualified teaching force, and the incapacity of government agencies to execute the said law despite the availability of government funding.

While I understand that the Supreme Court has to deliberate on many other cases, I would like to appeal to your office to prioritize the decision on the petitions for TRO against K-12. As I speak now, parents and students are at a loss on how to shoulder the additional burden of K-12, with the students unable to receive high school diploma, and proceed to college which they deserve. Teachers and staff find themselves defending their security of tenure while anticipating a decline in enrollment, with many part-time faculty and fixed-term contract faculty already being displaced. These conditions are unacceptable in a just and democratic society, and the delays in the ruling have already caused much anguish and anxiety on the part of affected education stakeholders.

It is clear that the K-12 Law has failed to provide substantial safety measures for our college teachers and staff in regard to their labor and economic rights which our Constitution upholds. Our teachers and staff are our partners in molding our young people and in building the nation, and the very least that our society can give them is the guarantee that their source of livelihood is protected and secured at all times.

The Holy Bible exhorts us to "Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31: 8-9)" I have come to appeal to you to immediately deliberate on the merits of the petitions, and rule in favor of the teachers and staff, parents, and students who are pushed to the margins by the K-12 Law.

May God bless us all.

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila