DepEd denies political pressure behind removal of 'Marcos dictatorship' in curriculum

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
DepEd denies political pressure behind removal of 'Marcos dictatorship' in curriculum
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte answer questions from the media during the kickoff of Brigada Eskwela 2023 at Victorino Mapa High School in Manila on August 14, 2023.
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education on Monday justified its decision to detach the name of “Marcos” from the word “dictator” in its revised curriculum, saying that the lesson guide for Araling Panlipunan had merely been “aligned” and “organized” by curriculum specialists.

During a press conference, DepEd Bureau of Curriculum and Development Director Jocelyn Andaya confirmed the authenticity of the internal memorandum circulating online directing the bureau to change “Diktadurang Marcos” to mere “Diktadura” in the Grade 6 Araling Panlipunan curriculum.

There was “no pressure of any kind” that triggered DepEd’s decision to drop the name of the president’s father from “Diktadurang Marcos,” Andaya said, adding that the decision was made after different bureaus under the curriculum strand reviewed the curriculum.  

“If you look at the curriculum, you will see that the way lessons are presented is not particular on any person but on the historical events,” she added in a mix of English and Filipino. “In other words, we just organized the curriculum guide.”

Andaya also denied any form of “historical revisionism” in the word change. “It’s purely an academic discussion,” she said.

RELATEDTeachers’ groups denounce DepEd’s ‘distortion of history’ in curriculum revision

According to Andaya, the revised curriculum is a “living document” that can be tweaked as different offices under the curriculum strand review its contents, after which curriculum specialists have a “robust discussion” and come to a consensus.

“We just aligned the topic of ‘Hamon ng Demokrasya’ with the preceding topic, which is ‘Hamon sa Neokolonyalismo.’ So we just focused on the events and themes happening in the Philippines,” Andaya said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The internal memorandum mentioned that the directive was "made even after the arduous process of review and revision was done under the guidance scrutiny of experts, the review of stakeholders and the public launch of the MATATAG curriculum." 

The memorandum was dated September 6. The new DepEd curriculum for Kinder to Grade 10 was launched August 10.

Just ‘diktadura’

A copy of the revised Araling Panlipunan curriculum available online shows that the word “Diktadurang Marcos” appeared twice — first as a subheader (“C. Hamon sa Demokrasya / Diktadurang Marcos”); and then as a subtopic (“Mga pagkilos laban sa Diktadurang Marcos”) under “Paglaban sa Dikadura.”

As pointed out by Andaya, Subheader B, the topic preceding “Diktadurang Marcos,” is titled “Mga Hamong dulot ng Neokolonyalismo.” 

Unlike the Marcos dictatorship — a period of Philippine history referring to the years of dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos Sr. — the DepEd lesson on "Neocolonialism" encompasses several administrations’ economic agreements from 1946 to 1986 and is related socio-political developments, according to the curriculum guide. 

A group of martial law-era survivors said that DepEd's directive had "whitewashed" the crimes committed against Filipinos during the Marcos regime by divorcing the Marcoses from the term "dictatorship."

“The compound term ‘Marcos dictatorship’ is different from merely calling the period a ‘dictatorship’ alone. How would the people and particularly the children know who was responsible for the plunder and atrocities of martial law if Marcos is not named?” said Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) in a statement. 

“Semantically divorcing the Marcoses from the term “dictatorship” — in a curriculum, no less — is obviously a calculated and sinister plot to absolve the Marcoses of their brutalities during their despotic rule, especially among our youth,” the group added.

Memo already effective 

Andaya said that the memorandum is effective for schools already undergoing the pilot implementation of the revised K to 10 curriculum. 

“And this is an iterative process, so we will look at the documents and then we will gather the group again. The process will be repeated… to look for different angles and ideas, ” the bureau director said.

DepEd will conduct a pilot test of the revised curriculum in seven regions, according to a September 8 memorandum from DepEd. Around 800 school officials and teachers will participate in an orientation on the new curriculum.

Teachers free to mention ‘Marcos dictatorship’

Andaya said that teachers are free to use the term “Marcos dictatorship” and other words they deem appropriate in lessons but also mentioned the need for “different and opposing perspectives” in their discussions.

“Teachers can always use the terms they think are appropriate as they arise in the discussion and in delivering their lessons. It is the teachers’... to present different and opposing perspectives and make them coexist without erasing the other,” Andaya said.

“It’s important that there is an open discourse about this in the classroom. Because any discussion on the dictatorship in the Philippines will inevitably point to the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.,” she added.

In 2022, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator, was quick to dismiss any concerns that his administration would rewrite or remove history lessons pertaining to the abuses during his father's regime. 

Marcos Jr. mentioned twice — once in his inaugural speech and again in his first State of the Nation Address — that he was not referring to history lessons when he suggested possible tweaks in the content of educational materials.

RELATED: Nostalgic Marcos laments state of education, vows not to change history lessons 

Andaya said that Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte does not look at the “nitty gritty” of curriculum revisions but instead signs off on the “big ideas.”

— with reports by Camille Diola

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