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Fears of historical revisionism loom after Bongbong Marcos says he’ll appoint Sara Duterte education secretary

With Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. poised to take office as the next president of the Philippines, he recently expressed interest in appointing his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the next Department of Education (DepEd) secretary — an offer that Duterte gladly accepted.

“Yesterday, the presumptive President and I once again talked about how I could help the country. It was decided that I would focus on producing skilled learners with the mindset to realize their full potential as individuals. Our country needs a future generation of patriotic Filipinos that advocate peace and discipline in their respective communities,” Duterte said in a statement.

The Marcos-Duterte tandem did not present any platform on education throughout the campaign trail, save for a proposal by Duterte that would mandate Filipinos participate in paid military service upon turning 18.

Duterte also made a statement about skills training and education during a visit to Nueva Vizcaya in February.

“When we say education, we do not just talk about a college degree. That includes skills training because a lot of jobs don’t require college degrees.”

That said, the Department of Education covers the K-12 basic education curriculum. Another department, the Commission on Higher Education, deals with tertiary education.

Netizens have expressed concerns about Duterte replacing Secretary Leonor Briones as education chief, primarily due to her proposal about mandatory military service as well as the possibility that the atrocities and corruption that happened during the period of martial law that took place under the reign of Bongbong’s father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, will be whitewashed in the nation’s history curriculum.

Another commenter showed a controversial post from communication undersecretary and perennial red-tagger Lorraine Badoy in which she maligned award-winning children’s publisher Adarna House, founded by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario. Badoy called the publishing house “demons” for “planting hate and lies in the tender hearts of children” for its range of educational books about martial law.

“To think if Sara Duterte becomes DepEd secretary, book-purging and censorship will only become worse,” he said.

Walden Bello, who ran against Duterte in the vice-presidential race in tandem with labor leader Leody de Guzman, said that he worries that the city mayor will turn DepEd “into a gigantic Philippine Military Academy.”

In December, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the 2022 General Appropriations Act, which guaranteed a PHP5.024 trillion ($97.5 billion) budget to the government’s various departments. The Department of Education received the highest budget allocation with PHP773. 6 billion.

(PHP1 = US$0.019)