Amend law creating Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino to safeguard language – KWF

MANILA, Philippines – After the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the constitutionality of a Commission on Higher Education (CHED) memorandum making Filipino and Panitikan as optional core subjects in college, the Komisyon sa Wikang (KWF) Filipino said changes in the law creating the KWF itself were needed to safeguard the national language.

KWF Chairman Virgilio Almario said on Monday, May 27, that Republic Act 7104 or the Commission on the Filipino Language Act lacked clear provisions that would make the KWF in charge of handling all matters related to the Filipino and Philippine languages. 

Hindi ganung katindi 'yung provisions para sabihin, halimbawa, na 'pag wika ang pag-uusapan, hindi dapat CHED 'yan, hindi dapat DepEd. Dapat 'yan...Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. Wala ganung provision [ngayon]. 'Yun ang kulang doon sa Republic Act 7104,” Almario said.

(The provisions were not so clear as to say, for example, that when it comes to language matters, it’s not CHEd or DepEd that decides, It should be the KWF [deciding]. There’s no provision like that. That’s what RA 7104 lacks.)

Under RA 7104, the KWF has the power to “call on” other government agencies or private institutions “for cooperation and assistance in the performance of its functions, duties, and responsibilities.”

But KWF Director General Katarina Rodriguez said this was not enough to consider KWF as the government agency responsible for upholding and executing the language clause of the 1987 Constitution.

Kaya ang nais naming mangyari, magkaroon ng direktang relasyon 'yung mga gawain ng KWF bilang ahensya na nag-e-execute nung clause na iyon ng Konstitusyon,” she added.

(That’s why what we want is for a direct relationship between KWF and its functions as the agency that is supposed to execute the language clause of the Constitution.)

Almario said the commission would push for amendments to the law so that the KWF would be responsible for executing the language provision of the 1987 Constitution, which says the government should sustain the use of Filipino as “official communication” and the medium of instruction in schools. (READ: KWF's Almario hits universities removing Filipino as a subject)

"Kung mangayari 'yun, 'yun ang isasagot natin sa argumento ng Supreme Court na non-self-executory ang language provision," he said. (If that [amendment] happens, that is what we will use to answer the Supreme Court’s argument that the language provision of the Constitution is non-self-executory.)

Other changes eyed: Aside from this, Almario said KWF was eyeing changes in the law that would allow the commission to have a say in the development of school curriculums, establishment of Filipino departments, and testing of Filipino teachers.

Almario said more funds were also needed to ensure the KWF could carry out its functions and hire more people.

"Ang aming kasing feeling – ako mismo ang parang guilty – maligaya tayong lahat na may Filipino sa colleges and universities. Hindi natin nakita 'yung p'wedeng mangyari. Kaya hindi natin naisaayos lahat ng mga poste para hindi madehado ang Filipino sa mga universities," he said. 

(What we're feeling – and I myself feel guilty – is we were all happy there were Filipino [subjects] in colleges and universities. We didn't see what could happen. We didn't fix what we needed to ensure Filipino would not be compromised in universities.) 

Almario said the KWF had met with Senate President Vicente Sotto III to discuss the matter, and that Sotto said he would push for a bill proposing the amendments.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez said KWF was also ready to propose the amendments to lawmakers in the incoming 18th Congress. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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