With Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. poised to take office as the next president of the Philippines, he recently expressed interest in appointing his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the next Department of Education (DepEd) secretary — an offer that Duterte gladly accepted.
“Yesterday, the presumptive President and I once again talked about how I could help the country. It was decided that I would focus on producing skilled learners with the mindset to realize their full potential as individuals. Our country needs a future generation of patriotic Filipinos that advocate peace and discipline in their respective communities,” Duterte said in a statement.
The Marcos-Duterte tandem did not present any platform on education throughout the campaign trail, save for a proposal by Duterte that would mandate Filipinos participate in paid military service upon turning 18.
Duterte also made a statement about skills training and education during a visit to Nueva Vizcaya in February.
“When we say education, we do not just talk about a college degree. That includes skills training because a lot of jobs don’t require college degrees.”
That said, the Department of Education covers the K-12 basic education curriculum. Another department, the Commission on Higher Education, deals with tertiary education.
Netizens have expressed concerns about Duterte replacing Secretary Leonor Briones as education chief, primarily due to her proposal about mandatory military service as well as the possibility that the atrocities and corruption that happened during the period of martial law that took place under the reign of Bongbong’s father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, will be whitewashed in the nation’s history curriculum.
I am literally scared right now. Sara Duterte as DepEd secretary would have the power to silence students and change how history is taught in schools
— Mande to Sundae #ACAB (@edmndgrcia) May 11, 2022
Now that Sara will head DepEd, we can only expect outright whitewashing of the Marcos and Duterte regimes. This reminds me of an article that details how history textbooks, by employing humanizing semantics during revisions, among others, distort history among Grade 6 students. pic.twitter.com/BVRKjaBHSD
— Ludwig Bables (@ludables) May 11, 2022
Presumptive VP Sara taking on DepEd is consistent w/ everything we have feared prior to this election: the Marcos-Duterte alliance will be able to seize education, seize history curriculums, seize public school libraries, and will capture collective imagination.
— Alfonso Manalastas (@not_alfonso) May 11, 2022
Another commenter showed a controversial post from communication undersecretary and perennial red-tagger Lorraine Badoy in which she maligned award-winning children’s publisher Adarna House, founded by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario. Badoy called the publishing house “demons” for “planting hate and lies in the tender hearts of children” for its range of educational books about martial law.
“To think if Sara Duterte becomes DepEd secretary, book-purging and censorship will only become worse,” he said.
ADARNA BOOKS, BEING ATTACKED BY LORRAINE BADOY!
Kahit ang children's books na nagtuturo ng kasaysayan, hindi pinalampas nitong buhong.
Anlala, and to think na DepEd Sec daw si Sara Duterte, lalala ang book-purging and censorship. Nazi Philippines!#NoToMarcosDuterte2022 pic.twitter.com/EdyxBxjRzi
— Kej Andrés #JoinSCMP bit.ly/JoinSCMP (@TheKejOfGlory) May 12, 2022
Walden Bello, who ran against Duterte in the vice-presidential race in tandem with labor leader Leody de Guzman, said that he worries that the city mayor will turn DepEd “into a gigantic Philippine Military Academy.”
Do I worry about Sara Duterte being DepEd chief?
Yes. Given her previous comments about the so-called "value" of subjecting youth to mandatory military training, there's a danger she could turn DepEd into a gigantic Philippine MIlitary Academy. https://t.co/0aFmgh1Ug4
— Walden Bello (@WaldenBello) May 11, 2022
In December, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the 2022 General Appropriations Act, which guaranteed a PHP5.024 trillion ($97.5 billion) budget to the government’s various departments. The Department of Education received the highest budget allocation with PHP773. 6 billion.
(PHP1 = US$0.019)