Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro, a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle) denied reports that the department he leads has surrendered its vision of learners formed to be “God-loving,” as claimed in various media reports on the department’s revised statement of vision, mission and values (VMV.)
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) the same day issued a statement lamenting the silence about God in the reworded version of the vision statement.
Brother Luistro explained the new statement of the department’s VMV in a post on the DepEd’s website Friday, Aug. 29. He stressed that the statement of vision, mission and values must be taken in its entirety. Doing so would show that the term “God-loving” remains as a value that the department seeks to promote as stated in the word “Maka-Diyos”, its synonym in Filipino language.
He said specifying the formation of students who are God-loving, pro-people, pro-environment and patriotic allows values education teachers to develop modules that will form persons of integrity who live out their faith and convictions, while avoiding pietism or ritualism.
“We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners.”
He also affirmed the constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. He said the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue.
Brother Luistro’s complete statement reads:
On 4 September 2013, I released DepEd Order No. 36 s. 2013 in order to update the Agency’s directions and further strengthen our capacity to fulfill our constitutional mandate. The review of our Vision and Mission was anchored on the Filipino Core Values of *Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa as articulated in Section 40, Republic Act 8491. [*pro-God, pro-human being, pro-environment, patriotic]
Recent media reports have mistakenly attributed to me claiming, “the God-loving phrase was removed from the department’s vision to be fair to Filipinos who may subscribe to other beliefs and principles”. I had not issued any statement to that effect. This attribution is completely false.
Other articles refer to a Christian advocacy group whose spokesperson “aired the group’s dissatisfaction over what it believes is a rash decision on DepEd’s part that had been influenced by some members of the non-religious sector.” Other local news articles referred to a group claiming to have pressured the Department based on an open letter that they posted on 5 February 2013 via their Twitter account. I have not had the occasion to interact with any of these groups on this matter.
As early as 2010, discussions on the revision of the VMV were initiated within the department. A series of consultations was conducted with key persons in various levels of the organization, including the regions and school divisions.
It is important that the DepEd’s new VMV be regarded as one document to be appreciated in its entirety.
The term “God-loving” is synonymous with Maka-Diyos. The term Maka-Diyos is essentially connected with Maka-tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa and allows our Values Education teachers to develop modules that will hopefully form persons of integrity. It warns against pietism or ritualism and encourages persons of faith to live those convictions everyday, everywhere.
We maintain that the formation of God-loving learners is a vision that we have not surrendered. We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners. We affirm the long-established constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. We also affirm that the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue, as this is a part of learning to live together.
Following is the full text of Archbishop Villegas’ statement sent to Catholic in Asia
CBCP President on the 2013 Version of the Vision Statement of the Department of Education
The Department of Education recently re-worded its Vision Statement. In the past, the department tasked with the formation of our children once envisioned “functionally literate and God-fearing Filipinos”. Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom.
A vision statement is not an empty platitude. It guides the articulation of policy. It orientates plans of action. While maka-Diyos remains one of the Department’s core-values, we maintain that the formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered.
“This Sacred Synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.” This is what Vatican II teaches in “Gravissimum Educationis“.
The right of a child to recognize God, to love him and to hope in him cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not. Our pluralistic society indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to. This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence. Furthermore, the attitude of our laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as’benevolent neutrality’: the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy.
We exhort our Catholic laity in public elementary and high schools to be zealous in the apostolate of forming pupils and students. Do not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full!
This, our dear public school teachers, is your particular mission in the life of the Church, the dignity of your calling as evangelizers within the world and its concerns. It is a challenge of particular urgency in this, the Year of the Laity. Stand up for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
August 29, 2014, Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist
+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
At least 20 million students enrolled in public pre-school to high school in school year 2011-2012 and 3 million reportedly enrolled in private schools for those levels.