‘Competitive edge’: House leader makes case for honing Pinoys’ command of English

Published August 18, 2022, 7:46 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A House leader has argued in favor of further honing Filipinos’ proficiency in English even as President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. himself noted that English was “the language of the Internet”.


“Keeping our labor force highly attractive for local and international employers is one means for the Marcos administration’s economic transformation to succeed,” Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte said in a statement Thursday, Aug. 18.

“It would go a long way in, first, [continuing to attract] foreign investors to set up shop here, and, second, for international firms to keep hiring our workers and thereby boost the dollar remittances of migrant Filipinos,” he said.

Villafuerte, majority leader of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) of the House of Representatives, was reacting to the proposal of a militant teachers’ group for the Marcos administration to drop English in favor of Filipino as the medium of instruction in Philippine schools.

“Blunting our sought-after labor force’s competitive edge in the world’s lingua franca by using Filipino as the medium of instruction for our students is a recipe for disaster as we would be needlessly giving up one potent skill that has allowed our professionals and other workers to step into quality jobs here and abroad: the Filipino’s relative facility for the English language,” the Bicolano said.

“Why will we unjustifiably relinquish our ‘A’ game in English, so to speak, when this language is known as the world’s lingua franca because there are reportedly 350 million people across the globe who speak it as their first language and 500 million more who use it as their second language?” he stressed.

Earlier, President Marcos said: “Foreign employers have always favored Filipino employees because of our command of the English language. This is an advantage that we must continue to enjoy.”

The President pointed out that “the Internet has now become the global marketplace. Not only for goods services but also for ideas, even extending to our own personal interactions.”

“The language of the Internet—for better or for worse—is English,” added the Chief Executive. “Therefore, the question of our medium of instruction must be continuously re-examined to maintain that advantage that we have established as an English-speaking people.”

Villafuerte, the vice president for political affairs of the National Unity Party (NUP), had backed Marcos’s plan for the government to upskill students in the English language as a way to further sharpen the competitive edge of Filipino professionals and other workers in the global market.

The solon further said that proficiency in English has opened a lot of opportunities for local job hunters as well as those looking to keep their current employment or get promoted, since most corporations require from their employees and would-be hires a fair amount of skill in English.