CHR scores alleged DepEd module discouraging students from participating in peaceful assemblies

Activists staged a rally at the University of the Philippines in Diliman Quezon City to condemn the signing into law of the Anti-Terror Bill.
The STAR/Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Blind obedience is not true patriotism, the education department was reminded after a questionable portion of one of its alleged self-learning modules went viral this week. 

"We are concerned that a module on Media and Information Literacy allegedly coming from the Department of Education (DepEd) discouraging children from participating in peaceful assemblies, such as rallies," the Commission on Human Rights said on Saturday. 

The module in question was first posted to Facebook by David Waya, a member of Rise for Education-Cagayan Valley, a regional organization advocating for safe and quality education for all. 

Anuna DepED? Anong nangyari sa grammar at pagbibigay ng answer against exercising democratic right? *Mula ito sa DepED...

Posted by David Waya on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The subject of the picture analysis activity is a photograph depicting an environmental rally. One of the questions asked is: "If given the chance, will you join this rally? Why or why not?" The corresponding answer key identifies the correct answer as: "No, because the government has really been doing their best for all the Filipino people and their constituents." 

"While respect for the law is a good value to teach, it is equally important to develop among our children critical thinking, especially when it comes to issues that affect us, not only personally, but as well as those national in scope," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said. 

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"Love for one’s country is not limited to mere obedience, but can also be manifested through collectively tackling issues of our communities and the country under the guidance of rights entitled to us and protected by the Constitution, including the people’s right to freedom of speech, of expression, the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the government for redress of grievances," she added. 

The CHR has had to stress this right to assemble as police crack down on protesters, invoking community quarantine guidelines in order to arrest students, jeepney drivers, and activists even when they adhere to social distancing protocols. 

READ: CHR on arrest of 'Cebu 8': Health crisis won't stop basic right to protest | 20 arrested at Pride march against anti-terror bill in Manila | Four of 'Piston 6' walk free, but 72-year-old driver still detained

"We stress that our current freedoms that we enjoy today are fruits of past struggles. Instead of discouraging dissent, it would be better to demand better services and accountability from the government and its officials as part of their duty to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all," De Guia said. 

"At the same time, we encourage citizens to continue to report to DepEd errors found in the learning materials for the benefit of our children, as well as a call for an improvement in our current educational system," she further said. 

This administration's treatment of protesters was the subject of scrutiny this week, as the nation watched a young mother, a jailed activist, grieve for her departed baby under the most unfavorable circumstances. 

On Friday, 23-year-old Reina Mae Nasino, buried her three-month-old daughter River but was not allowed to even so much as wipe her own tears — handcuffed and surrounded by jail guards and police. The National Union of Peoples Lawyers condemned the government's treatment of Nasino as "cruel" and inhumane."

Journalists and private citizens alike watched in disbelief and horror as baby River's wake and funeral were disrupted by the outsized presence of heavily-armed men, recalling that convicted criminals have received more compassionate furloughs than Nasino. — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag

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