Law expert: CHED should follow SC's PhilSAT decision

THE PHILSAT DECISION AND CHED. (Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino; rannie_aquino@csu.edu.ph; rannie_aquino@sanbeda.edu.ph; rannie_aquino@outlook.com)

Of course, CHED has nothing to do with the PhilSAT that the Supreme Court passed upon. But what seems to be overlooked by many, including CHED, is that the Supreme Court there enunciated doctrine on the ambit of academic freedom. And because what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander (without having to decide which of the two agencies is goose or gander!), the CHED should not consider itself outside the purview of the doctrine laid down on academic freedom. Read more: Ranhilio Callangan Aquino (October 04, 2020). THE PHILSAT DECISION AND CHED. https://www.facebook.com/rannieaquino/posts/3788494601180135.

In an earlier column, I wrote about what the Pimentel case did – and what it did not do. It did not really strike the PhilSAT down. The test can still be administered, and in fact, should be administered, but what score or percentile rating is to qualify the student for admission to law school is not a matter for the LEB to determine by regulation but for each higher education institution in the lawful exercise of academic freedom.

And that is just the first thing CHED must pay heed to, for the National Medical Admission Test s a mandated requirement for admission to the medical program – and the Supreme Court earlier held it to be a constitutional exercise of the police power of the State to ensure that only those who are qualified are admitted to the study of medicine. However, present CHED Memorandum Orders determine the necessary score that medical schools and colleges must exact from candidates for the program. Now, if the Supreme Court rules that the matter of determining “who to teach” falls squarely within the ambit of academic freedom, then CHED really has no business determining by CMO the minimum passing score or grade in the NMAT.

The Court likewise frowned on the LEB regulation that determined the minimum qualification for professors of law as well as deans Euqof law schools and graduate schools of law. Note the nuance: While the Court upheld the master’s degree in law as a “reasonable requirement”, what it struck down as an assault on academic freedom were the consequences LEB had pre-determined for non-compliance. Again, CHED must conform. The Court held that “who should teach” is likewise within the fortress of academic freedom. But CHED Memoranda are replete with minimum requirements for instructors, professors, department chairs and deans of different programs. Why should CHED be allowed to impose disqualifications including the threat of closure of a program while LEB’s prescriptions and sanctions do not pass muster? Equal protection is perhaps one of the most fundamental precepts of our Constitution.

CHED’s PSGs are still too restrictive, and it seems not to have sunk into the agency that “reasonable supervision” and NOT control is what the Constitution confers upon it. The surfeit of regulation stymies creativity, experimentation and boldness – all of which are essential to the progress of the delivery of instruction. In our pandemic times, because much of higher education is online, even students who are abroad can enroll and take courses. Shall we return to the “normal” when the pandemic is done (if it ever will be done) and submit to innumerable bureaucratic requirements all of which smother higher education institutions before offering our programs to overseas Filipinos or even to foreign students?

If CHED remains insistent about its chokehold over higher education institutions, then perhaps it might be necessary to ask the Supreme Court to compel it to! Read more: Ranhilio Callangan Aquino (October 04, 2020). THE PHILSAT DECISION AND CHED. https://www.facebook.com/rannieaquino/posts/3788494601180135.

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