Responding to a letter from Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco of the UP Department of Linguistics, Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales of the Commission of Human Rights on Saturday, August 10, 2013, ordered the immediate investigation of the reported dismissal of 3 eighth grade students from Saviour’s Christian College in Laoag City as ordered by the school President Rev. Brian Shah for speaking Ilocano within campus reportedly in violation of a speak-English-only-in-school policy:
Thank you so much for bringing this to me. This is horrible. Atty. Romel, please have this investigated ASAP by our regional office. Equally, please convene an emergency meeting with our network of schools in Region 1 to have this discussed with corresponding recommendations from the DEP-ED authorities.
Atty Flora, please have your staff monitor this. I expect an immediate initial report.
The full text of Nolasco’s letter is as follows:
August 8, 2013
MS. ETTA ROSALES
Chair, Commission on Human Rights
UP Diliman, Quezon City
Dear Madam Etta:
We wish to bring to the commission’s attention the case of Kleinee Bautista, Carl Andrew Abadilla, and Samuel Respicio, who were expelled from Saviour’s Christian Academy in Laoag City by the school president, Reverend Dr Brian Shah. Their infraction: they spoke Ilocano inside the school premises.
We hereby state our position on this matter.
First, the prohibition of a Philippine language and the over-privileging of a foreign medium in this school, and in any school in the Philippines under the supervision of the Department of Education, violate not only the students’ language rights but also their education and human rights. Punishment by expulsion for speaking in one’s language criminalizes the punisher’s act.
Second, due process remains a bastion of a decent interpretation of justice; when we deny due process to those perceived violators of a school regulation, then we deny them justice.
Third, in the holistic education of students, the use of their native language follows the basic rule of starting them from what that student knows. This beginning knowledge, that still needs expansion, elaboration, and integration, is what his first, native, or mother language mediates.
Fourth, this act of depriving the students of their native language particularly in their school community where learning ought to happen is contradictory to the very principles of the Philippine government’s educational directive on mother tongue based multilingual education.
In view of the foregoing, may we ask the commission on human rights to conduct a thorough investigation on this matter, and after such investigation, administer the necessary and appropriate legal sanctions on the guilty parties. Furthermore, may we call on the commission to affirm the policy that language rights are inalienable human rights entitled to protection by the state. Other equitable remedies are likewise prayed for.
RICARDO MA. NOLASCO, PhD
Associate Professor, UP Department of Linguistics
President, 170+ Talaytayan MLE Incorporated