MANILA, Philippines – The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) expressed support for the passage of Senate Bill 499, amending Republic Act 7104 (Commission on the Filipino Language Act).

Authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the bill enables the commission to better promote Filipino as the country’s national language.

“It will pave the way towards our more encompassing service for the Filipino language,” National Artist and KWF Chairperson Virgilio Almario said, in time with his report on the 2019 celebration of Buwan ng mga Wika.

He considers Senate Bill (SB) 499 a ray of hope for the commission as the KWF seeks to fulfill its mandate and comply with the 1987 Constitution.

In an open letter sent earlier to Filipino teachers nationwide, Almario cited the need for a law on further developing and enriching Filipino to make it a medium of official communication and instruction, as the Constitution requires.

Republic Act 7104 created the KWF or Commission on the Filipino Language (CFL) in 1991 to undertake, coordinate, and promote research for development, propagation, and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages.

Sotto filed SB 499 last July, noting the need to further intensify KWF’s work and “directly attribute” its mandate to the fulfillment of the 1987 Constitution’s language provisions by 2040.

It is “incumbent upon Congress to craft legislation that shall operationalize the Constitutional policy on Filipino language—as official language and language of instruction in all levels of education—and authorize the CFL to strongly advocate agencies to comply with this Constitutional policy,” he said in SB 499.

At present, KWF continues to face the final Supreme Court ruling that upheld Commission on Higher Education Memorandum 20, series of 2013, which set the policy of excluding Filipino and “panitikan” or Philippine literature from the general education curriculum (GEC) for tertiary education.

KWF voiced out that Filipino and Philippine literature are part of the GEC in accordance with the Constitution’s spirit and language provisions.

SB 499 aims to designate KWF as the primary policy-making and coordinating body on language concerns.

“To the extent possible, the KWF shall influence the systems, processes, and procedures of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government vis-a-vis language policies to ensure the implementation of this Act,” the bill states.

To help the KWF effectively and efficiently undertake and accomplish its functions, SB 499 also has provisions to revise the commission’s structure and staffing pattern.

SB 499 has already been referred to the committees on basic education, arts and culture, as well as civil service, government reorganization, and professional regulation. (with reports from PNA)

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