A committee in the House of Representatives is eyeing penalties against persons found responsible for the publication and distribution of school books and other learning materials as well as homeschooling modules found to contain obscenities, errors, and misleading information.
The House Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose Singson Jr. however said the panel was still waiting for the Department of Education to give its side in the controversy.
Singson said the committee also expected the department to justify its continued failure to comply with the provisions of Republic Act 8047 that removed from the department the responsibility of publishing books.
On Monday, Singson presided over the initial hearing on House Resolution 1670 that directed the committee to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the Commission on Audit findings on numerous errors in the learning materials and modules that DepEd approved, published or distributed to basic and secondary education students.
“The Mabalacat (Pampanga) learning module that contained vulgarity is very alarming. While DepEd officials boasted that they corrected the error, it pains us to learn that the culprit has not been punished,” Singson said.
He was referring to the report of educator Antonio Calipjo-Go, who revealed that the vulgar Filipino word for sexual intercourse had been included in the definition for the word “aswang” in the self-learning module (SLM) distributed to students by the DepEd division in the city.
The obscene word was used in describing what an “aswang” is and what it does.
Singson noted that DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali admitted that while they had acted on the issue as early as February 2021, the person who purposely put the vulgar word in the SLM had yet to be identified and punished.
“What he or she did was intentional, glaringly malicious and utterly despicable. Like the numerous errors found by COA in DepEd learning materials, it will be difficult for our students to unlearn what their teachers asked them to digest,” he said.
To address the issue, Singson said the public accounts panel would determine whether or not there was a need to impose penalties against persons involved in the publication and distribution of books and learning materials for students in basic and secondary education.
Aside from authors and writers, Singson said government officials and personnel tasked to edit, proofread, examine and approve errant books for publication and distribution should also be penalized.
“It is time to teach those who committed mistakes, whether intentional or not, a lesson to prevent similar outrage in the future,” Singson warned.