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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A number of Cordillera congressman are now up in arms against the alleged degrading, discriminatory and oppressive remarks against Igorots that are contained in the learning modules of the Department of Education that have been circulated nationwide.
Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap strong condemned the online modules depicting Igorots in a negative manner that tend to malign their identity as members of the country’s indigenous peoples.
“It is unbelievable that such discriminatory remarks made its way to the learning modules of our students. Nakakagalit. Nakakadismaya. It is not clear whether it forms part of a textbook, a module or a test sheet but regardless of its form and context, this is an insult, an obvious form of discrimination and a mockery of our rich culture in the Cordillera,” Congressman Yap stressed.
The lawmaker pointed out that the contents of the learning modules are sending wrong message to the students were at a very young age, they are taught that it is ok to bully a child because of her or his roots or it is okay to discriminate children because of their looks.
He added that if the education department will not act on such a highly sensitive issue, the day will come that the rich heritage and culture in the region will die a natural death because it will be perceived as something to be ashamed of.
“We will not allow this scenario to happen. We call on the education department to undertake a massive review of its textbooks and other learning materials used in our schools. We urge Education Secretary Leonor Briones to issue a department order instructing teachers nationwide to forbid them from using discriminatory statements such as those that had been circulating over social media the past several days,” Yap exclaimed.
He claimed this is not the first time such reports have been received and at this point, the education department should take responsibility on the matter as it is an issue that he will definitely raise in Congress through a House Resolution that he will file and that education officials will be summoned to shed light on the controversial matter.
For his part, Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. expressed his willingness to actively participate in the proposed House inquiry through the House Ccommittee on National Cultural Minorities and Indigenous Peoples chaired by Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang.
Dalog asserted that the discrimination against Igorots did not only happen once but it happened many times but it seems concerned government agencies are not able to make the appropriate corrections to erase the misconception about the Igorots.
He underscored it is important for education officials to review their processes in the production of learning materials to avoid similar mistakes in the future because as mentors of the youth, discrimination and oppression should be avoided right from the start to prevent people to have misconceptions about the Igorots who are often mistakenly depicted.
Congressman Dalog also urged the House committee on basic education and culture to take the necessary steps to compel the education department to look into the aforesaid matter, reflect the appropriate corrections to the defective modules and make sure that similar incidents will not be repeated in the future.
On the other hand, Mangaoang stipulated that the education department should immediately initiate the appropriate steps to correct the identified discriminatory modules and not await the conduct of the proposed House inquiry and again put the concerned department in a bad light.
The Kalinga lawmaker stated that he will make the appropriate position on the matter once he sees that the education department and other concerned government agencies shall have done their part to correct the matter without being pressured to do so.
Congressman Mangaoang emphasized it is unfortunate that the Igorots are always the victims of discrimination by fellow Filipinos and that no one seems to act on the matter so that people responsible for such discriminatory actions and remarks should be imposed the appropriate penalties to send a clear message that indigenous peoples should not be discriminated in the first place.