SC upholds K to 12 program

By Jeffrey Damicog/Manila Bulletin

The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the constitutionality of the government’s K to 12 education program.

With the decision, the SC lifted its April 21, 2015 temporary restraining order (TRO) against Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 20, which directed the exclusion of Filipino and Panitikan as core courses from the curriculum of college courses.

In a 94-page decision penned by Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the SC denied the consolidated petitions which assailed the constitutionality of Republic Act 10533 (K to 12 Law), RA 10157 (Kindergarten Education Act), and other government issuances concerning the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program, including CMO No. 20.

“Wherefore, the consolidated petitions are hereby denied. Accordingly, the Court declares Republic Act No. 10533, Republic Act. No. 10157, CHED Memorandum Order No. 20, Series of 2013, Department of Education Order No No. 31, Series of 2012, and Joint Guidelines on the Implementation of the Labor and Management Component of Republic Act No. 10533, as constitutional,” read the decision dated Oct. 9 but was made available to media just recently.

The decision was released in response to numerous issues raised in seven separate petitions filed by various groups and individuals, including students, teachers, and lawmakers.

One of the issues raised by the petitioners is that they were deprived of their constitutional right to be consulted in matters concerning their interests prior the passage of the law.

“The Court holds that, contrary to petitioners’ contention, the K to 12 Law was validly enacted,” the SC said.

The High Court cited that Congress, from 2011 to 2012, and even the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2011 held regional public consultations which included as participants students, parents, teachers, school representatives, and local government representatives.

“And even assuming that no consultations had been made prior to the adoption of the K to 12, it has been held that the ‘penalty for failure on the part of the government to consult could only be reflected in the ballot box and would not nullify government action’,” said the Tribunal, citing its 2007 ruling in the case of Anak Mindanao Party-List Group v. Ermita.

As to the contention that there were irregularities in the passage of the law considering the bill approved in Congress was different from the one signed by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the SC stressed that it will always adhere to the enrolled bill doctrine.

“Under the ‘enrolled bill doctrine,’ the signing of a bill by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and the certification of the Secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed is conclusive not only as to its provisions but also as to its due enactment,” the SC said.

Because of this, the SC said the allegations of the petitioners “had all failed to convince the Court to look beyond the four corners of the enrolled copy of the bill.”

The High Tribunal also assured that there is “no undue delegation of legislative power in the enactment of the K to 12 Law.”

“Moreover, scattered throughout the K to 12 Law are the standards to guide the DepEd, CHED and TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) in carrying out the provisions of the law, from the development of the K to 12 BEC (Basic Education Curriculum), to the hiring and training of teaching personnel and to the formulation of appropriate strategies in order to address the changes during the transition period,” it stated.

The SC also disagreed with petitioners that the government violated the Constitution when it exercised police powers to regulate education in adopting the K to 12 Law.

With regard to CMO No. 20, the High Court assured that the memorandum is constitutional and does not violate any laws.

It pointed out that the framers of the Constitution “explained that the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication is still subject to provisions of law.”

“To be sure, the changes in the GE (General Education) curriculum were implemented to ensure that there would be no duplication of subjects in Grade 1 to 10, senior high school, and college. Thus, the allegation of petitioners that CMO No. 20 ‘removed’ the study of Filipino, Panitikan, and the Constitution in the GE curriculum is incorrect,” it stressed.

The decision was unanimously concurred in by then Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Justices Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Mariano Del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., and MarivLeonen who has a separate concurring opinion.

Only Justices Jose Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, and Lucas Bersamin failed to sign the decision as they are on leave.