Erosion of congressional authority-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, October 7, 2013
SEVERAL times over the past few months, I have written about my perception that the Legislative Branch has been losing ground to the Executive Branch when it comes to decision-making authority.
The most serious example is the dubious passage of RA 10533 which provides an additional two years of secondary schooling. The dubiety is caused by the fact that RA 10533 is not an amalgam of the relevant House Bill (HB6643) and Senate Bill (SB 3286). On 30 January 2013 members of the Senate and House Education Committees met with the purpose on agreeing on a final draft to be debated in both Houses. The results of this meeting are contained in Senate Journal No 52 also dated 30 January 2013. The meeting appeared to make good progress with agreement being reached that using the Senate Bill as a template, modifications were made when the content of the House Bill was preferred.
But no joint Bill was prepared.
The next event that was publicized was RA 10533 being signed into law, by the President, on 15 May. Unfortunately, RA 10533 as enacted has major differences from the results of the Senate/House discussions.
RA 10533 was written between 30 January and 15 May by anonymous functionaries, perhaps within the Department of Education. It was not passed by Congress. The signatures of then Senate President Enrile and House Speaker Felix Belmonte appear on RA 10533 and dated 30 January but those signatures do not reflect the approval of either the Senate or the House of Representatives.
The major differences between the result of Legislative Branch deliberations and the Act that was ‘passed’ to do with curriculum that students will undergo in our education system.
Our education curriculum is perhaps the most significant single component which decides the kind of nation we become. We can have a globally competitive curriculum which ensures that our 15 year old students are on a par with students from other lands in international comparisons on the core subjects of Reading, Math, and Science. Or we can have an inefficient curriculum in which our students fall short of international standards. This is what we have at the moment.
RA 10533 is designed to reinforce our mediocre standards of education. I do not know what DepEd is seeking from implementing our education system. Will it be a Christianized equivalent of the output from Islamic madrasas and with an emphasis on Philippine language and culture? Nothing wrong with that except that we shall not be globally competitive so that we will not have the economic growth rate that we need. No science in Grade 1 is a bad start.
All we have seen so far is that we shall have a world record-breaking 13 compulsory years before our students graduate from high school. This is putting the cart before the horse. What should have happened is that the curricula for kindergarten, elementary, and secondary should have been decided before the length of time for study was calculated. Curriculum first!
But we now have an additional two years without a proper understanding of what these extra two years will produce. It is an academic exercise anyway. Approximately 2.4 million babies were born in 1999 of whom only about 800,000 will graduate from a four year high school course in March 2016. How many of these will go on to a further two years of ‘compulsory’ high school education?
When President Aquino suggests that the Senator judges who voted for Corona’s dismissal were not bribed because the inducement was provided after they voted, he shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the corrosive impact of bribery and corruption wherever it appears. Our venal representatives know that meeting the president’s wishes will ensure material rewards. The Education Act was a presidential high priority. It was ‘passed’ under the bad circumstances described earlier. After the revelations about bribery and the Corona impeachment trial, we can never trust our legislators again. By forfeiting our trust and by squandering their authority over legislative matters, our legislators have destroyed any semblance of legitimate leadership.
Is there any hope?
‘For the hope of the ungodly… passeth away as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day.’ - Wisdom of Solomon ch 5, v14
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 07, 2013.