These are the many errors to be found in Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ response to my article “Kuri-kulam” (9/17/17).
Briones said: “While Philippine history, as a subject, is no longer part of the junior high school curriculum, discussions of events in Philippine history, especially on martial law, are ‘naturally integrated’ in several subjects, among them Southeast Asian political landscape in the fourth quarter of Grade 7, and contemporary politics of Asia in Asian history (also taught in Grade 7), which focuses on the rise of dictatorship in Southeast Asia, e.g., Suharto and Sukarno of Indonesia, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, and Marcos of the Philippines.”
None of what Briones stated with regard to “martial law,” “Marcos” or “dictatorships” appears in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum Guide of May 2016 for Grade 7. None appears in “Asya: Pag-usbong ng Kabihasnan,” the textbook recommended by the DepEd for the use of Grade 7 students in their subject Asian History.
Briones categorized the former prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew as belonging to a group of Southeast Asian dictators. Mr. Lee must be turning in his grave! I wonder what his son Lee Hsien Loong, the present prime minister of Singapore, who was in the country for the Asean Summit, must feel, knowing that this atrocious and slanderous idea is being taught and imprinted onto the minds of young and impressionable Filipino learners and students by no less than the education secretary. Lee Kuan Yew was never a dictator like Sukarno, Suharto and Marcos!
Lee Kuan Yew was the longest-serving prime minister in modern world history — for good, obvious reasons. He virtually raised the city-state of Singapore from scratch. His strict, no-nonsense and mildly authoritarian but clean, efficient and incorruptible style of governance led to the evolution and transformation of that small island into Southeast Asia’s most prosperous and progressive nation. Marcos’ dictatorship, by contrast, set in motion the process of the Philippines’ degradation and devolution, which eventually led us to where we are now: at the bottom of a cesspool out of which we cannot hope to escape. There’s a world of difference between the two—the former created, and the latter devastated and destroyed. It is unfortunate that this piece of fake news emanated from our education secretary, who should know better than to call the great statesman a dictator like Sukarno and Marcos.
Instead, Briones should have included in her rogues’ gallery of Southeast Asian dictators that Grim Reaper of the killing fields of Kampuchea, Pol Pot, under whose bloody Khmer Rouge regime a quarter of the entire population of Cambodia perished.
“Pilipinas: Bansang Papaunlad,” the first book I cited in “Kuri-kulam,” is a public school textbook, proven by the fact that it is mentioned 14 times in the DepEd Curriculum Guide as a “learning material” for the use of Grade 6 pupils of public elementary schools in their subject Hekasi (Geography, History, Civics). In this book, Philippine history ended on July 4, 1946, with the Declaration of Philippine Independence. As a result, martial law and the Marcos dictatorship are topics that have no way of being discussed in this book. It contains many factual errors as well. Thus, it is a grossly defective public school textbook.
While the other nine books I mentioned were indeed published by private publishers, the DepEd cannot escape the fact that private textbook publishers and their authors base the content of what they write solely and entirely on the DepEd Curriculum Guide. They may not write based on their whim, caprice, or the windmills of their mind.
Briones’ admission that “Philippine history is no longer part of the high school curriculum,” plus the existence of the 10 deficient and defective textbooks I cited in “Kuri-kulam” which are presently being used by Grade 6 pupils studying in both public and private schools, affirm my assertion that martial law and the Marcos dictatorship are topics that are not discussed at all in both grade school and high school. Kulang, ’di ba? (Lacking or deficient, isn’t it?) Therefore: “Kurri-kulang-kulang!”
There is indeed a concerted plan to sanitize, trivialize and ignore the evils of Marcos and martial law in Philippine textbooks. Briones should look into this if she is responsive and responsible, rather than deny it. I take umbrage at what the secretary implied when she said: “Antonio Calipjo Go’s assertions are nowhere near the truth.” That is tantamount to calling me a liar.
ANTONIO CALIPJO GO
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