By Macon Araneta

Akbayan Sen. Risa Hontiveros on November 19, called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to re-examine its move to remove Pilipino, Panitikan (literature), and Constitution from the college level, saying that removing these subjects endangers Filipino culture and identity.

She noted that “we need our language in all levels of education.”

“I can understand some of the reasons for suggesting their removal but I believe that in the long run, the loss of these subjects at the college level will be detrimental,” she said.

The opposition senator said that Filipino, as the national language, should be preserved not only as a tool for work but also as a means of discourse, cultural expression and a language for advanced research into our culture.

She said the Supreme Court (SC) recently upheld as constitutional the order of CHED to remove the mandatory Filipino subjects in the college curriculum.

The high court previously blocked the CHED order through a temporary restraining order. Some advocacy groups have also warned that the removal of the subjects would result in the loss of work for thousands of Filipino teachers.

Media reports say that CHED will wait for the SC’s final decision before implementing the removal.

“I ask the CHED to seriously reconsider and review its decision because our language shapes our reality. And I believe that it is possible for the Filipino to become globally competitive without sacrificing our skill in our own language,” Hontiveros said.

Sen. Bam Aquino questioned the Supreme Court’s decision excluding Panitikan and Filipino as core subjects in college, saying that “we should strengthen our Filipino identity and appreciation for our national language.”

Aquino said it was in his college years that he became more aware of the country’s needs, and he emphasized that Filipino literature can help deepen the youth’s love and appreciation for the struggles, revolutions and victories of fellow Filipinos.

The opposition senator  pushed for the passage of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act as principal sponsor during his time as chairman of the Committee on Education.

Currently, Aquino is also pushing for other education-related measures, including Senate Bill No. 1278 or the Trabaho Center in Schools Act.

The measure aims to establish a job placement office in every public high school and SUC in the country, which will provide industry matching, career counseling, and employment facilitation.

Trabaho Centers must also address the skills mismatch and ensure employability of students upon graduation by using feedback from employers to better develop the school’s curriculum and training programs.