Senators slam DepEd for 'one-sided' history textbooks glorifying the Marcos regime

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Senators discovered that some history books taught in schools enumerated only merits of the Marcos regime and only tackled facts until 1946. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — As the 46th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the country nears, Senators questioned the use of textbooks that give "one-sided" views on history and gender roles.

Senator Risa Hontiveros cited a history book entitled "MAKABAYAN: Kasaysayang Pilipino", which enumerates only merits of the regime under then President Ferdinand Marcos. The book was reportedly being used in public schools in Valenzuela City.

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Another book entitled "Pilipinas: Bansang Papaunlad" discusses Philippine History but only until 1946. Hontiveros said it is currently being used in a public school in Bulacan.

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Marcos was notoriously known as a strongman in Philippine history after placing the entire country under martial rule on September 21, 1972. His reputation was marred by multiple counts of human rights violations, and ill-gotten wealth. 

Senator Bam Aquino argued that educational materials should not offer a "one-sided" view on history. 

"Teachers should be provided with books that have a wider perspective on history. Hindi yung one-sided perspective lang [Not just the one-sided perspective]," Aquino said Wednesday. 

Aquino is also the nephew of former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., who was the top opposition figure of the Marcos regime.

Among the allegedly false information on historical textbooks were items glorifying "mestiza" looks over Filipino skin.

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A test also instructs students to answer which roles are performed by the father, mother and children, with homemaking chores classified under a mother's roles as correct answers.

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"In the age of fake news and historical revisionism, one should be able to rely on our education system to equip our students with correct information and critical thinking skills," Hontiveros said.

However, DepEd clarified that the materials in question were not issued by the department. Education chief Leonor Briones said textbooks must be printed by private publishers as per the Book Publishing Industry Development Act. 

"The law says that this has to be written and published by private printers...Hindi kami [we are not] allowed. And this explains also why in spite of new developments, new information, new perspectives, hindi nare-reflect sa textbooks kaagad [they are not reflected on the textbooks immediately]," Briones said. 

However, Briones admits DepEd remains accountable for the review and correction of wrong information in educational materials.

"Part of our efforts to make all these corrections is to look at the schools that are still using these kinds of textbooks, which have lost their relevance. It is a duty on our part to check on the schools who are still using these books because we have a lot of new materials already," she said.