ACT Philippines Cebu rejects Charter change proposals

Logo of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
Logo of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)

A COALITION of teachers rejected the various proposals pushed under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to revise the 1987 Constitution.

Regletto Aldrich Imbon of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines Cebu said in a statement on Wednesday, March 3, 2024, that amending the Constitution will only tolerate neoliberal policies that will have detrimental effects, including the commercialization of education.

Logo of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
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Neoliberalism is an ideology favoring free market capitalism aiming to reduce government intervention in the economy and encourage foreign investment.

"The Marcos Jr. regime packages these proposals under the supposed change in the economic provisions of the Constitution," a portion of the ACT statement read.

In December 2023, Marcos announced that the government had initiated a study on potential amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to attract increased foreign investment. Several Resolutions of Both Houses were passed advocating for economic revisions in the Constitution.

Critics raise concerns about inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” into the proposed revision, suggesting it could enable changes akin to passing ordinary legislation.

This opens the door for big businesses to lobby lawmakers easily, potentially gaining control over crucial public utilities such as water, electricity, transportation, education, and communication.

Imbon said that this policy will cause harm to local businesses and national security by relinquishing control over essential utilities, particularly education.

"What is worse is that this time, education is commodified and made open for sale not only by local but also by foreign capitalist educators. This means a further rise in the current skyrocketing tuition and other fees especially in higher education as the primary mantra in the delivery of education is not anymore service but foreign profit," he said.

Additionally, foreign educators could manipulate curriculum to serve neocolonial agendas, perpetuating historical revisionism and advancing foreign interests, he said.

Neocolonialism refers to the practice where former colonial powers or other dominant nations exert indirect control over less powerful countries or regions.

Based on reports, the Department of Education (DepEd) strongly objected to proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution, specifically allowing foreign entities full control and administration of basic education institutions in the Philippines.

During a House Committee of the Whole hearing last March 4, DepEd Undersecretary Omar Romero said that Congress's proposed amendments to Paragraph 2, Section 4, Article 14 of the Constitution would have "far-reaching consequences and serious implications" for DepEd's mandate and functions.

“It is essential that the Philippine curriculum is exclusively implemented by Filipino citizens. This ensures alignment with the specific needs and context of the country,” he said.

In contrary to the basic education agency's stance, Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero De Vera III said that permitting foreign ownership in the education sector would enhance the global competitiveness of colleges and universities.

He expressed support for a constitutional amendment that would enable foreign nationals to control and administer educational institutions.

De Vera emphasized the limitations of current laws in facilitating internationalization efforts by local institutions, noting their inefficacy in attracting foreign entities compared to neighboring countries with fully liberalized education sectors.

The 1987 Constitution currently permits the establishment of international schools only if religious groups and mission boards oversee them or if they intentionally cater to foreign diplomatic personnel and their dependents, as well as foreign temporary residents. (KJF)


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