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Prof-led alliance to file TRO case to SC to retain PH Consti subject

Social Sciences Department (SSD) Political Science Professor, Dr. Jose Aims Rocina formed the group “Alliance to Retain the Constitution (ARC)” which aims to file a Prohibition Case with Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at the Supreme Court (SC) to enjoin the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) from removing the subject Philippine Constitution in the tertiary level which is designed to be brought down to senior high level.

Rocina, who started the initiative through a Facebook group gathering nearly 1000 members, said that the removal of the Philippine Constitution subject opposes Article 14, Section 3 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states that “all educational institutions shall include the study of the constitution as part of the curricula.”

He added that he sees the subject as especially needed during the Duterte administration.

“I think it’s very important, especially with the alleged violation of human rights during this Duterte [administration], thus, if you remove the Constitution [subject], more and more (students) will not be aware of their human rights, because some of these rights embedded there are really applicable; such as the issuance of a warrant of arrest. This is so crucial in police operations Duterte’s campaign against drugs,” Rocina said.

In the senior high level, the subjects Philippine Politics and Governance, and Understanding Culture, Society and Politics are currently offered. However, as per Rocina, “Its contents merely provide for half of the constitutional provisions.” The subjects also missed to further tackle significant articles such as national territory, accountability, the bill of rights, and the state principles and policies.

Furthermore, upon talking to professors from the senior high department, Rocina added that the two subjects are not offered in all senior high strands. Through this set up, “They (students) will not really receive any education on the constitution.”

On to SC

As of press time, Rocina is writing the draft for the Prohibition with TRO and is planning to have his sibling, Atty. Hippocrates Rocina, review and sign the documents. The filing fee would would cost almost P6,000, which will supposedly be shouldered by Rocina and other willing ARC members.

According to Dr. Rocina, this is the first move to stand up against the removal of Philippine Constitution subject in the college level.

Rocina said that one of the probable factors behind the removal of Philippine Constitution in the list of tertiary subjects is the “globalized” curriculum, which adapts to ASEAN integration. He also noted that the K to 12 Committee is also focusing more on humanities subjects and other personality and economic development strands.

He plans to file the prohibition before the new curriculum is laid out for the first batch of K to 12 graduates who are to begin college in June and July.

Effect on teachers

The removal of Philippine Constitution as a subject in college will also take a toll on professors at DLSU-D, as per Rocina.

“Instead of teaching Constitution, which is an expertise of some of our professors, we will be handling other subjects which are not in line with our educational background. This would entail additional training and effort on our part as we familiarize ourselves with the new subjects.”

Rocina further added that these new subjects still lack the mandated proposed syllabus from CHED, hampering preparations for their offerings in applicable courses.

ARC support

Although receiving no definite stand from the school administration, other DLSU-D professors such as former Faculty Association President and SSD Professor Jerome Buhay showed support to Dr. Rocina’s cause saying in one post in the ARC group, “Constitution must be taught in college. That’s my stand.”

In an online interview with The HERALDO FILIPINO, Buhay furthered that college students have a “higher level of comprehension, thus they can understand more/better our constitution than those in the senior high.”

Dr. Rocina is also starting to get support with fellow Philippine Constitution professors from other schools such as Far Eastern University and other state colleges and universities.

The SSD professor is aiming for 1,000 to as much as 20,000 ARC members before the filing of the petition.

“I’m just aiming for more members so that the Supreme Court will realize that there are people that are trying to stop the implementation [of the removal of the Philippine Constitution subject] …so the more people, the bigger the impact,” Dr. Rocina said.

He also suggested that students “make noise” and share this initiative to their friends and relatives and “pressure” people in power to share the same cause.

“I just want the Lasallian community to be responsible citizens, be participative in political developments, stand for their rights, and make the government more responsive to the needs of the times,” Dr. Rocina said.

In the previous AY, Filipino teachers from various institutions also acted against the removal of Filipino subjects in tertiary education as part of the K to 12 program, resulting in the SC’s issuance of a TRO that stopped CHEd from implementing the new policy.