Close to a hundred petitioners, among them lawmakers, members of the academe, parents and students have filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act 10533 or the K to 12 Law.
The petitioners on Friday asked the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the implementation of the program.
The lawmakers among them were party-list representatives from Alliance of Concerned Teachers (Antonio Tinio), Bayan Muna (Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate), Anakpawis (Fernando Hicap), Gabriela (Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus) and Kabataan (Terry Ridon).
Named respondents were President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Commission on Higher Education Chairman Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director Joel Villanueva.
The petitioners argued that the K to 12 program was crafted without widespread consultation with the stakeholders and will result in mass lay-off of around 25,000 to 78,000 teachers and non-teaching personnel.
They said the program will pave the way for the “massive de facto privatization” of senior high-school education that will affect at least 400,000 senior high-school students.
“The K to 12 Law disregards national development in favor of labor export, goes against the welfare of workers in the education sector and directly violates the constitutional provision on free secondary education, and hence should be declared unconstitutional and immediately scrapped,” the petitioners demanded.
They cited provisions under the Constitution that , according to them, have been violated by K to 12, among them right to quality education and the right to free secondary education enshrined in Article XIV, Sections 1 and 2 (2); right to select a profession or course of study, enshrined in Article XIV, Section 5; importance of nationalism in education and national development and establishment of an education system relevant to the needs of the people enshrined in Article II, Sections 13 and 17 and Article XIV, Sections 2 (1) and 3 (2); the State’s duty to promote a just and dynamic social order, a self-reliant and independent national economy, comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform and industrialization and full employment, enshrined in Article II, Sections 9, 19 and 21 and Article XII, Section 1;
supervision, control and administration of educational institutions, enshrined in Article XIv, Section 4 (1) and (2); and the State’s full protection for labor and the right of workers to participate in policy and decision-making with regard to their situation;
and other related provisions enshrined in Article XIII, Section 3.
Amid renewed calls to suspend the implementation of the K to 12 program because of alleged ill-preparedness of the government, President Aquino declared also on Friday that it is all systems go for the program.
In his speech marking the second year of the K to 12 implementation, Aquino responded to
critics, saying the program has undergone years of planning and consultation.
“Sa kabila po ng mga naisakatuparan nating mga inisyatiba, batid nating may ilan pa ring nagsasabing hindi po tayo handa [Despite our successful initiatives, we know that there still those who say that we are not yet ready to implement the program],” he said.
“Ito po ang tugon natin sa kanila: Handa na tayo. Bunga ang K to 12 ng ilang taong pagpaplano’t masusing konsultasyon, kasama ang mga katuwang natin sa sektor ng edukasyon [This is our answer to them: We are ready, K to 12 is a product of many years of planning and consultation, together with the education sector]” the Presient added.
Aquino mocked some critics of the K to 12 program who held a protest rally on Friday morning.
“Pagdating ng panahon, lahat ng mga tumututol, ‘pag nakita na ‘yung tagumpay, sasabihing kung hindi sa batikos nila [ay]hindi ko napaganda ang K to 12 [Time will come, when we are victorious, we can say that if not for these critics, I would not be able to make good in implementing the program],” he said.
“Minsan ho talaga ang mga kritiko natin, sila lang talaga ang anak ng Diyos; sila lang ang magaling. Kaya bahala na ang Diyos sa kanila [Our critics think that they are the only children of God; that they are the only ones capable. God will take care of them],” Aquino added.
According to the President, the program would improve the Philippine education system.
With the K-12 program, he said, Filipino students will learn more and get better jobs.
The K to 12 program covers kindergarten and six years of primary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.
According to the government’s official gazette, the program seeks to “provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment and entrepreneurship.”
In his speech, Aquino said that before the K to 12 program was implemented, the Philippines was among the three remaining countries with only 10 years of basic education.
The President, meanwhile, assured that the government is addressing the needs of the those who will be affected by the K to 12 implementation.
He said there are enough funds allocated to the education sector.
with CATHERINE S. VALENTE