The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT-Teachers) criticized the government on Tuesday about the true state of the education sector in the Philippines hidden behind Buwan ng Wika celebration.

House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Representative France Castro questioned the administration’s focus on the effectiveness of learning the Filipino language when schools lack proper facilities and classrooms, and teachers are underpaid.

“Kaya huwag nang gamitin pa ang Buwan ng Wika upang itago ang tunay na kalagayan ng ating edukasyon na urong, nahuhuli, at nais maging lunsaran ng agenda ng pamahalaan na balukturin ang kasaysayan,” Castro said in her privilege speech at the 19th Congress 2nd Regular Session Number 08 on Tuesday.

[Translation: So don’t use the National Language Month to hide the true state of our education which is backward, lagging behind, and wants to be a launching pad for the government’s agenda to distort history.]

The Department of Education (DepEd) Memorandum No. 036, s. 2023 on June 29, 2023 states that the month of August is celebrated as the ‘Buwan ng Wika 2023’ led by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), with the theme “Filipino at mga Katutubong Wika: Wika ng Kapayapaan, Seguridad, at Ingklusibong Pagpapatupad ng Katarungang Panlipunan.”

This was in pursuant with the Proclamation No. 1041, s. 1997 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos on July 15, 1997 which designates August as the National Language Month.

According to Castro, with DepEd in the lead of having the largest budget cut, “Marapat itong ilaan sa pagsasa-ayos ng mga paaralan, paggawa ng mga epektibong textbooks sa Filipino, upang maisakatuparan ang tektuwalisasyon nito.”

[Translation: It should be allocated to the renovation of schools, making effective textbooks in Filipino, to carry out its textualization.]

Furthermore, the Minority Leader also called out DepEd for asking for P150-million confidential funds to surveillance students and teachers which will be involved in illegal recruitment activities in schools.

“Is the DepEd now a police or military agency that it is conducting surveillance operations on students and teachers? Dapat pala siguro Department of Surveillance na ang tawag dito at di Department of Education,” Castro said in a statement on Monday.

[Translation: Is the DepEd now a police or military agency that it is conducting surveillance operations on students and teachers? Maybe it should be called the Department of Surveillance and not the Department of Education]

Castro urged the government to use the celebration as an instrument to learn more about the true state of the Philippines.

“Subalit sa kasamaang palad, Ginoong Speaker, pinanatili ng ating pamahalaan ang ating edukasyon bilang pribelihiyo at hindi isang karapatan, kung kaya’t marami pa ring kababayan na nanatiling mangmang. Gamitin natin ang buwan ng Wika upang maging instrumento ng pagkatuto hingil sa tunay na kalagayan ng ating bayan,” Castro concluded.

[Translation: But unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, our government has kept our education as a privilege and not a right, which is why there are still many citizens who remain ignorant. Let’s use the month of Language to be an instrument of learning about the true condition of our people.]