House panel eyes penalty vs authors of erroneous books: 'Time to teach them a lesson'

Published June 16, 2021, 10:01 AM

by Ben Rosario

The House Committee on Public Accounts is eyeing the imposition of penalties against persons involved in the publication and distribution of school books, learning materials and self-learning modules found to contain errors and misleading information.

“Unlike our students who are minors and are gullible to assimilate whatever is taught them in school, I believe it is now time to teach those who committed mistakes, whether intentional or not, a lesson,” Committee chairman and Probinsyano Ako Partylist Rep. Jose “Bonito” C. Singson Jr. said in his press statement on Tuesday, June 16.

Singson made this disclosure as the House panel is readying the conduct of a second hearing in connection with House Resolution 1670 on the conduct of a congressional inquiry, in aid of legislation, on a Commission on Audit annual audit report calling the attention of the Department of Education on the numerous errors found in learning materials and modules it approved, published and distributed to basic and secondary education students.

Singson said the committee also expects DepEd to justify its continued failure to comply with the provisions of Republic Act 8047 that removed from the department the responsibility of publishing books.

“The Mabalacat 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.

In last Monday’s hearing,educator Antonio Calipjo-Go reported the complaint of parents in Mabalacat, Pampanga in connection with their discovery of the insertion of a vulgar Filipino word for sexual intercourse in self-learning module (SLM) distributed to students by DepEd.

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 have acted on the issue as early as February, 2021, the person who purposely put the vulgar word in the SLM has 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,” the committee chairman stressed.

To address the issue, Singson said the public accounts panel will determine whether or not there is 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.

He explained that aside from authors and writers, government officials and personnel tasked to edit, proofread, examine and approve errant books for publication and distribution should also be penalized.