Teachers, academics join growing movement vs Charter change

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Teachers, academics join growing movement vs Charter change
Launching and press conference of TEACH or Teachers and Academics Against Charter Change with representatives from different basic and tertiary education groups.
Facebook / Opisina ng Faculty Regent

MANILA, Philippines — A newly formed alliance of teachers and academics has branded the government’s Charter change campaign as a form of historical distortion, warning that efforts to tweak the fundamental law also aim to erase the memory of the years-long anti-Marcos struggle that birthed the country’s democratic cornerstone.

During a press conference on Friday, the Teachers, Education Workers, and Academics Against Charter Change (TEACH) described the Charter change campaign as an attempt to rewrite history and downplay the people's struggle against authoritarian rule under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the president’s father.

The 1987 Constitution — a document widely regarded as the product of the anti-Marcos protests and a way to institutionalize checks on power — represents the “legacy of the fight against the Marcos dictatorship,” said Michael Pante, TEACH convenor. 

“These unnecessary Chacha initiatives are a thinly veiled attempt at repudiating the spirit of EDSA to rehabilitate the Marcos name. This anti-Chacha campaign is part of our duty as teachers to preserve the memory of the anti-dictatorship struggle,” Pante said.

TEACH said in their unity statement that safeguarding the Charter from attempts to revise it will also safeguard the memory of people’s “anti-dictatorship struggle.”

“At a time when historical distortion is rampant, educators must be at the forefront of preserving the memory of many Filipinos who sacrificed their lives to fight Ferdinand E. Marcos’s authoritarian rule,” the statement read.

The alliance also raised concerns similar to other anti-Chacha groups about the proposals to ease restrictions on foreign ownership.

The group said that liberalizing economic provisions, including those that will impact “sensitive institutions” like schools and universities, potentially compromises their independence and autonomy.

“The current restrictions to foreign ownership of politically sensitive institutions, including schools and universities, should be preserved to maintain Filipino control over such institutions and prevent undue foreign influence especially during this time when our sovereignty is under attack,” the group added.

Ruby Bernardo, chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers - National Capital Region and TEACH member, also criticized the government’s apparent use of state resources to bankroll the Charter change campaign instead of focusing on raising teachers’ salaries, among other initiatives.

“There is no provision for substantial salary increase for teachers and the public education system is still poorly funded and yet the government has millions of funds for this untimely and of no use Cha-Cha. This proposed Chacha will in no way solve our education crises,” Bernardo said.

The House of Representatives and the Senate are currently deliberating on proposals that seek to amend the Constitution's economic provisions to relax foreign ownership restrictions in higher education, advertising and public utilities.

President Marcos Jr. has already directed lawmakers to proceed with their deliberations of the two proposals (Resolution of Both Houses 6 and 7) "without any fuss" after leaders of the House and the Senate traded barbs over their preferred mode for changing the Charter.

The president has repeatedly expressed his support for relaxing the foreign ownership restrictions in the Constitution, which he said is needed to bring more foreign investors to the country.

But he has also maintained that he is only interested in amending the economic provisions and "nothing more."

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