Members of the National Union of Students of the Philippines rally against the K-12 program and tuition increase in front of the Department of Education Central Visayas in Barangay Lahug. JUNJIE MENDOZA/ Cebu Daily News BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The latest Supreme Court petition has asked that the kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) enhanced basic education program be struck down for constitutional infirmities, which were uncovered by a law student in the Visayas.
The supposed anomalies were discovered by Richard Troy Colmenares, 28, a law student of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, who took part in the petition filed on May 28 by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and parents, many of whom are from Baguio City.
The lawsuit seeks to stop the government from enforcing Republic Act No. 10533 (Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013), citing inconsistencies between the draft laws passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives and the document submitted to President Aquino for signing.
In an e-mailed letter to the Inquirer, Colmenares said RA 10533 could be unconstitutional “based on serious and substantial discrepancies [found in Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 18] in relation to the Bicameral Conference Committee Report contained in Senate Journal 52 (dated Jan. 30, 2013).”
He said among the insertions or deletions from the congressional version of the law was the removal of math and science subjects from early grades in the program, and the exclusion of parents from the Curriculum Consultative Committee, to be replaced by representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry and the business process outsourcing industry.
Colmenares said he tried to draw the government’s attention to what he discovered when he compared House Bill No. 6643, Senate Bill No. 3286, RA 10533 and Senate Journal 52, which kept track of the bills’ deliberations.
“As a law student, [I am] disturbed by the blatant disregard of constitutional precepts on the manner [by which our laws are passed],” he said.
Colmenares said he wrote senators, congressmen, and officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Civil Service Commission, hoping to compel Congress to pass “curative legislation, which could have saved the country from this embarrassment.”
But Colmenares said he was ignored, until his analysis was validated for the lawsuit by University of Santo Tomas professor Rene Tadle and NUPL Baguio lawyers led by Maryann Bayang and Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, whose daughter, Kathlea Francynn, is a petitioner.
“The K-12 program is not just an issue of government readiness and responsiveness to internal or domestic social realities. It is also an issue of integrity of the legislative process. RA 10533 is not identical to the reconciled version of Congress … It seems that only Troy Colmenares noticed this,” Yangot said.
The petition in the Supreme Court also said Education Secretary Armin Luistro had usurped the powers of Congress when he implemented a portion of the K-12 program in 2012 through Department Order No. 31, a year before RA 10533 became law in May 2013.
The order directed public schools, and encouraged private schools, to implement the K-12 basic education curriculum effective School Year 2012-2013.
“My daughter is entering Grade 7, not first year high school, not because of RA 10533 but because of DepEd Order No. 31. Our NUPL colleague, [government prosecutor] Maribelle Corpus-Uminga’s daughter (a petitioner) is entering Grade 10 and will be part of the first batch of students who will enroll in Grade 11 next year. What is the legal basis for [these changes]? It is DepEd Order No. 31, which has no statutory basis,” Yangot said.
The petition also said the 1987 Constitution was violated by RA 10533. Section 2, Paragraph 2, of the Charter’s Article XIV states that elementary education “is compulsory for all children of school age.”
“Yet, Congress violated the sacrosanct doctrine of constitutional supremacy by making kindergarten compulsory in at least two republic acts it passed (Republic Act No. 10157 or the Kindergarten Act of 2012, and RA 10533) and in making secondary education compulsory in one (RA 10533),” the petition said.–Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon