DepEd Asst. Sec. Tonisito Umali
DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali says that under the manual of regulations, a private school has the power to craft its own policies and sanctions that “must be equal to the offense of the student” but that expulsion of a student is a penalty that must be approved by the Office of Education Secretary. Well, on account of the apparent mishandling of the case of the three students “advised to transfer” out of Saviour’s Christian Academy for speaking Ilocano within the confines of the school campus, I believe it’s high time that “manual of regulations” allowing the speak-English-only-in-school language policy imposed by any school is examined thoroughly and realigned with recent laws pertaining thereto. Even the language policy under Article XIV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution does not mention an “English-only” language policy:
“Section 7. For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.
The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.“
The regional languages, of which Ilocano is one, shall serve as auxilliary media of instruction.
Then, as recently as May 15, 2013, President Aquino signed into law the Enhanced Basic Education Act 0f 2013, otherwise known as RA 10533. Section 4 of this law provides:
For kindergarten and the first three (3) years of elementary education, instruction, teaching materials and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of the learners. The Department of Education (DepED) shall formulate a mother language transition program from Grade 4 to Grade 6 so that Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced as languages of instruction until such time when these two (2) languages can become the primary languages of instruction at the secondary level.
The law is rather clear — whether it be the 1987 Constitution or RA 10533 — the languages of instruction applicable to all under the basic education program governed by DepEd, and specifically to the three Grade 8 students who were essentially dismissed from Saviour’s Christian Academy because they violated a “speak-English-only-in-school” policy are: (1) Filipino, (2) English, AND (3) the regional language (Ilocano in this case) as auxiliary medium of instruction. If DepEd has a manual of regulations with provisions that run afoul of the above provisions of the 1987 Constitution and/or RA 10533, now is the time to scuttle those provisions and clear the way for reason and common sense.