THE fact that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had to emphasize “strict adherence to the Constitution” last Friday is a disappointing indictment of the conduct of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

The Constitution, after all, is meant to detail the fundamental principles according to which the nation is acknowledged to be governed. Liberal Party ideology, if properly adhered to, would ensure that the Constitution is revered. In fact, there are several important examples where it would appear that the Constitution is being treated with disdain.

The most important example where the Constitution has been violated is the inaptly named “Enhanced Education Act.” This act rides roughshod over the individual and especially, the family. Even the most totalitarian regime, either communist or fascist, would hesitate to sideline the sacred role of parents in the upbringing of their children in the way that RA 10533, the K-12 Act, has done.

The framers of the 1987 Constitution recognized that both parents and children have fundamental rights and that the State should be very careful about interfering with decisions that, rightfully, should be made within the family. Parents have huge responsibilities, which create horrendous challenges especially for the majority who have little or no discretionary income.

The salient part of the Constitution is Article XIV Sec 2(2) which states

“The State shall establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural right of parents to rear their children, elementary education is compulsory for all children of school age.’

In his mid-term report of May 2015, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro suggested that up to 500,000 students, armed with vouchers of a maximum of P20,000 will try to enroll in fifth year high school in a private sector school because the public school system cannot cope, particularly those who are taking the academic “track.” These students will not find that these vouchers will give them the free public education to which the Constitution entitles them. Furthermore, there is the question of whether private schools, other than La Salle, will admit students unless they can pass stringent entrance examinations.

The word “compulsory” is sprinkled liberally in both RA 10533 and its egregious partner, RA 10157, which specifies compulsory kindergarten. In every country that I know of, except the Philippines, compulsory kindergarten is an oxymoron.

The Supreme Court (SC) has been swamped with petitions (I have lost count as to how many) which seek SC support that RA 10533 is unconstitutional and should, therefore, be stricken from our Laws. SC deliberations are not, quite appropriately, public, but it is now at least three months since the first petition was submitted. It does not seem that the SC will reject this or, indeed later petitions in their entirety. CJ Sereno does not want to be an obstacle to legislative progress but it seems that RA 10533 does provide a Constitutional challenge. We look forward to an SC resolution which tries to be even-handed but respects the Constitutional right of parents to rear their children. Compulsory kindergarten and six years of compulsory secondary schooling is not, and hopefully never will be, enshrined in the Constitution.

At best, RA 10533 will need to be seriously modified.

The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) also makes proposals which are not compatible with the 1987 Constitution.

Last week, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago wrote in mild terms (for her) suggesting that Constitutionally, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Act (Edca) with the United States which PNoy signed as an “executive order” should, as an international agreement, be approved by two thirds of the 24 Senators. I cannot predict the response to Senator Defensor-Santiago’s missive, but I do not think it should be ignored.

It seems quite possible that the next President will not come from the Liberal Party. In some ways this is disappointing as PNoy’s administration has, according to Transparency International, substantially reduced corruption.

Unfortunately, Liberal Party ideology has not always prevailed in PNoy’s Cabinet.