Even those who cannot hear have the right to be heard. And so the raucous debate on whether to use English or Filipino as the medium of instruction in schools is being echoed in the “silent world.”
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said House Bill No. 6079, which would declare the Filipino sign language (FSL) the national sign language, was facing stiff opposition from the Department of Education (DepEd) and private schools for the deaf that did not want to throw away their English-based system.
“This matters to all of us and not just to the deaf because this is about equal access of all Filipino citizens. Unfortunately, because of our educational system, they (deaf school instructors) were taught a foreign sign language when we have an indigenous Filipino sign language that traces its roots to the pre-Spanish period,” Tinio said in an interview.
Tinio said the debate on whether to retain the American sign language (ASL) or the FSL was similar to the dispute over the use of English or Filipino as the language of instruction in schools, which had divided the country for years.
“The history is similar. Our teachers were taught with English as the medium of instruction when we have our own indigenous language, which we use to communicate outside our schools,” he said.
He noted that the bureaucracy in DepEd’s Special Education was trained using ASL by US Peace Corps volunteers in the 1960s and 1970s. “That is why they are against it,” he said.
Just like in the normal school setting, Tinio said students of the Philippine School for the Deaf were learning their lessons using the ASL and artificial systems such as the Signing Exact English, or SEE (which offers a literal interpretation of English words), but when they go out of their classrooms, they communicate in FSL.
Shifting from ASL to FSL would only require “retooling” on the part of public and private schools for the deaf.
If hearing Filipinos had hankered for the use of the native tongue to have full access to all aspects of economic, political and cultural life, “the deaf also have the right to be taught in their own national sign language,” Tinio said.
Tinio was accompanied by at least 50 deaf students at the session hall where he introduced his bill.
The young students marched to the House of Representatives from Philcoa, Quezon City, where they earlier held their version of a “noise barrage” with nothing but their gesturing hands and bright faces.
They called for the passage of the measure declaring a national sign language to be taught and used in all official transactions involving the deaf.
Their “noise” came from whistles they blew every now and then to express their support for HB 6079.
Most of them also held up makeshift banners backing the bill in between gesturing in sign language.
Affiliated with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf, the group also stopped briefly at the Commission on Human Rights before going to Batasang Pambansa, where representatives hold their offices.
At the rally, Tinio said the FSL, if adopted by law, would be taught in schools and used in government offices, workplaces, the courts, media, health facilities and other transactions involving the deaf community.
He pointed out that deaf learners had the right to their own culture and identity, too.
“Local and international research says that lack of recognition of a culture’s sign language and limited availability severely restricts or totally impedes the rights of the deaf to form and express their own opinion and participate in society,” Tinio said at the rally.
Tinio said that there was some opposition to the bill, primarily by promoters of the American Sign Language and artificial sign systems such as Signing Exact English.
He also lamented that there was no official or government-sanctioned registry agencies yet for sign language interpreting.
18 October 2012
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Antonio Tinio (09209220817)
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio lambasted the approval on second reading, without amendments, by the Lower House of HB 6643, the Revised Basic Education Reform Act of 2012, over objections on the lack of preparation for and commitment to fully fund the K to 12 program.
Tinio revealed that during committee and plenary deliberations, the bill’s proponents failed to prove that the Department of Education (DepEd) is ready to effectively implement the entire program. He scored in particular the perennial problems on teacher, classroom, textbook, and other resource shortages which impede children’s access to education.
“For the K to 12 reform program to significantly improve the quality of basic education, it must first solve existing shortages. Sadly, there is no indication anywhere in the bill of the intention to do so,” Tinio lamented. “With the creation of 61,510 teacher items, the Aquino administration will halve the current teacher shortage but K to 12 proponents failed to show that this en masse hiring will be sustained in the coming years. And how about the other critical resources?”
TInio added that DepEd has not yet fully developed and tested the new curriculum for all the grade levels including Kinder and the additional two years of high school.
During plenary debates Tuesday, Tinio argued that the bill’s appropriations clause, a standard provision usually cut-copy-pasted by lawmakers in drafting bills, is insufficient to bind the Aquino and succeeding administrations to fully fund the program. Instead, the bill’s provisions reveal the intention to let private sector fill up the gaps in public education system.
More students will be forced to enrol in private schools due to bloated class sizes, lack of teachers, and others and government will incentivize their admission through subsidies such as GASTPE and the voucher system. Classrooms, on the other hand, will be built through PPP, proven in other countries to be more expensive in the long run than public funding.
“Reliance on these forms of privatization reveals Aquino’s plan to use K to 12 to privatize education, make it more prohibitive for majority of Filipino children, and deprive them of their right to accessible education,” Tinio warned.
Tinio feared K to 12 bill’s hasty approval on final reading once session resumes in two weeks, as its proponents did not consider the valid points he and other oppositors raised during committee and plenary debates. However, he vowed to continue pushing for further preparation and greater funding for any education reform program. ###
Explanation of “no” vote on House Bill 6455
I vote “no” to House Bill 6455, the 2013 General Appropriations Bill, for the following reasons:
1. HB 6455 continues the decades’ long trend of prioritizing debt servicing over education, health and sanitation, housing, and other social services. A total of P360.4 billion is allocated to the debt burden, comprising 17.9% of the P2.006 trillion proposed budget. That’s larger than the combined budget for education and health. The priority given to debt servicing continues to be the main reason for the gross underfunding of social services by government, resulting in the deprivation of basic services to generations of Filipinos.
Even the Department of Education budget, which has the biggest budget among all line agencies at P292 billion, will not be able to provide for the needs, particularly of K to 12, touted as the banner education reform program of this administration. A mere P1.6 billion is allocated for the universal kindergarten program, which means that the Department of Education will continue to employ over 23,900 volunteer kindergarten teachers with a monthly pay of only P3,000 to P6,000 per month. How can this administration countenance such gross exploitation of teachers?
2. HB 6455 perpetuates the underdevelopment of domestic industry and agriculture. The Aquino administration continues to look to foreign investment and the overseas labor market as the main drivers of employment. Nowhere is this more evident than in the pitifully inadequate budget of the Department of Trade and Industry, particularly the allocation for Micro-, Small, and Medium Enterprises. MSMEs account for over 60 percent of jobs generated by the economy annually. Yet compare the allocation of a measly P1.2 billion for MSME support to the massive P44.3 billion allocation for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program. Clearly, this administration prefers short-term dole outs over long-term employment and the strengthening of the domestic economy.
3. HB 6455 infringes upon the rights of public sector employees, including teachers and non-teaching personnel, to decent salaries, job security, and collective bargaining.
a. HB 6455 does not provide for a salary increase in 2013. Historically, government has, since the initial implementation of the Salary Standardization Law in 1989, imposed a freeze on salary increases right after the implementation of a round of pay hikes (typically lasting 3 to 4 years but as long as 6 years in the case of the Arroyo administration). This is unlike the private sector, where the minimum wage is reviewed annually. We are concerned that the Aquino administration will continue this pattern, resulting in the erosion of salaries and decline in living standards of public sector employees.
b. HB 6455 perpetuates the large-scale contractualization of government personnel providing essential and front-line services. The proposed budget does not provide for the regularization of hundreds of thousands of contractual positions in the bureaucracy. In the public education sector alone, for instance, there are over 49,000 contractual teachers employed by Local Government Units; over 23,900 volunteer kindergarten teachers employed by the Department of Education, and over 16,000 contractual faculty employed by SUCs. The Department of Health intends to deploy 22,500 contractual nurses. In short, over 111,400 contractuals in public education and health alone. The vast majority are grossly underpaid and have no employer-employee relationship with government and are thus deprived of basic benefits.
Hand in hand with contractualization, the proposed budget also maintains a freeze on the hiring of new personnel in many agencies in the name of rationalization.
Notable in this regard is the lack of new plantilla positions for non-teaching personnel in the Department of Education, despite the fact that it will hire 61,510 new teachers next year.
c. HB 6455 further undermines the public sector’s right to unionize and to collective negotiation. Not only does HB 6455 not have a provision on the funding of Collective Negotiation Agreement Incentives, but it also signals the Aquino administration’s intent to, as the President put it, “move away from across-the-board incentives” through the introduction of Performance-Based Incentives, for which P9.97 billion is allocated. This introduces a competitive model that lets agencies and employees vie against each other for one-time cash incentives. This is intended to undermine the model of collective negotiation based on solidarity of interests upon which public sector unionism is based.
4. HB 6455 does not have adequate safeguards for the protection of human rights and the ending of impunity enjoyed by human rights violators. The budget can be a powerful tool for influencing policies and behavior in government institutions. For the past two years, this representation has advocated that the release of certain operational funds of front line units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines be tied to their human rights record. HB 6455 contains no such provision along these lines.
5. HB 6455 contains lump sum funds at the disposal of the Office of the President.Despite Malacañang’s declared aversion for lump sum funds, the Office of the President has reserved for itself a number of lump sum allocations. A notable example of this would be the P5.0 billion PAMANA fund, a Presidential pork barrel tucked into the budgets of eight agencies, to be dispensed at the discretion of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. ###
Antonio L. Tinio
Party-List Representative, ACT Teachers
5 October 2012
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio (09209220817)
Nothing less than a historic victory! On September 17, 2012, the Civil Service Commission accredited the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-National Capital Region (ACT-NCR) Union as the sole and exclusive negotiating agent of all public school teachers in the Department of Education-NCR. As more than 26,000 teachers signed and supported ACT’s petition, its successful accreditation is a triumph for us all.
Now, ACT-NCR Union will embark on the next and most important phase of struggle for any union—meeting face-to-face with the DepEd NCR management (to be represented by its Regional Director) to forge a Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA). ACT-NCR Union’s CNA proposal will include our demands regarding various aspects of the practice of our profession, including teaching hours, teaching load, leaves, promotion, and non-monetary benefits, among others. The CNA proposal will also underscore the demand for a CNA Incentive, a one-time bonus to be received by all NCR teachers when a final CNA is successfully agreed upon. ACT-NCR Union will fight for a P35,000 CNA Incentive for each and every teacher in NCR. Let ACT-NCR Union’s struggles and victories serve as an inspiration and example for public school teachers in other regions nationwide!
Along with the challenge of forming ACT Union regional organizations throughout the country, we call on all teachers to unite and fight for the most urgent demands of public school teachers today. Foremost is the enactment into law of House Bill 2142, which I authored, for the upgrading of public school teachers’ salaries from Salary Grade 11 (P18,549/month) to SG 15 (P24,887/month), together with House Bill 3746 for an additional P6,000 in the minimum pay of non-teaching personnel. Your support is also much needed for the amendments that I proposed to be made in the 2013 National Budget. These include the regularization of contractual teachers employed by Local School Boards and volunteer Kindergarten teachers; allocation of funds to make the annual medical examination of teachers free of charge; increase of the honoraria of volunteer Kindergarten teachers; and the scrapping of DepEd’s bid to amend the “no teacher’s transfer without consent” rule guaranteed by the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers. ACT Teachers is also pushing for an investigation into DepEd’s failure to remit to GSIS P4.5 billion in personal share premiums of its employees from 1997 to 2010.
Ngayong October 5, World Teachers’ Day, nagpupugay ang ACT Teachers’ Party-List sa mga dakilang guro ng bayan! Tuloy ang laban!
Rep. Antonio L. Tinio
Office address Rm. 618 South Wing, House of Representatives, Batasan Hills,
Email email@example.com ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org