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Which constitution killed the Spanish language in the Philippines? A clarification

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Many Hispanists blame the late president Cory Aquino for removing the Spanish language as an official Filipino language. But many individuals interested in this subject might start to wonder: why blame Tita Cory for the removal of the Spanish language when it seemed to be no longer official as far back as 1973 under Ferdinand Marcos?

This blogpost attempts to clarify the whole issue once and for all. It also provides some background of the Spanish language vis-à-vis the evolution of the Philippine Constitution.

The Spanish language during the days of empire

Since 24 June 1571 (the founding date of the Philippines), Spanish has been the official language of government and court offices. There was no written constitution back then since the Philippines was an overseas territory under the Spanish crown. But the Leyes de Indias (Laws of the Indies) oversaw the social, political, and economic life of Filipinos. Also, many educational institutions such as the Ateneo Municipal de Manila and the Universidad de Santo Tomás taught its students using Spanish as a medium of instruction. And all church documents were written in that same language. All this for obvious reasons.

It may be true that the Spanish language was not the mother tongue of the majority of natives who lived during the Spanish times. But that does not mean that it was not spoken on a national level.

When Tagalog rebels revolted against Spain and proclaimed the independence of the country on 12 June 1898, it should be noted that they still chose Spanish as the official language of the First Philippine Republic (1899-1901) under President Emilio Aguinaldo. And this was made official when the Constitución Política de Malolos (Malolos Constitution) was promulgated on 22 January 1899.

Filipino Army officers outside Iglesia de Barasoaín, Malolos, Bulacán (01/23/1899).

Article 93 of the said constitution states:

El empleo de las lenguas usadas en Filipinas es potestativo. No puede regularse sino por la ley, y solamente para los actos de la autoridad pública y los asuntos judiciales. Para estos actos se usará por ahora la lengua castellana.

(Translation: The use of languages spoken in the Philippines shall be optional. Their use cannot be regulated except by virtue of law, and solely for acts of public authority and in the courts. For these acts the Spanish language may be used in the meantime.

When the US took over, the republic was naturally dissolved, and there was no mention again of the ill-fated Malolos Constitution. As such, the Philippines went under the jurisdiction of the Federal government of the United States. Subsequently, the English language was enforced in the country.

But the Philippine Independence Act (more commonly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934) prepared the Philippines for self-government after a period of ten years. And it authorized the drafting of a new constitution for the Philippines as an independent country. This constitution came to be known as the 1935 Commonwealth Constitution.

Commonwealth

It was not a smooth road for the framers of the 1935 Constitution, particularly on deciding which official language should prevail. Heated debates ensued among the 1934 Philippine Constitutional Convention delegates who were involved in the language issue. Some were for Spanish. Some were for the native languages. Yet some were even for English!

Among the native Filipino languages, Tagalog was the most controversially discussed and debated idiom. But that’s another story.

In the end, the following compromise amendment presented by 24-year-old delegate Wenceslao Vinzons was approved:

National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on all existing native dialects.

Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall be the official languages.

However, the abovementioned amendment was written in a slightly different way in the constitution’s final draft. That version appeared in the book The Framing of the Constitution of the Philippines (1934-1935) authored by delegate Miguel Cuaderno (published in 1937 by the Philippine Education Company, Inc., Manila). It says:

The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.

If we may swerve for a moment. Note that the contention was still focused on which native language should be prioritized (although English and Spanish still dominated the constitution). Notice also that the Vinzons amendment contained the phrase “based on all existing native dialects”. But in the draft which appears in Cuaderno’s book, it was replaced by “based on one of the existing native languages”. This goes to show that a language problem was already beginning to surface (but again, it’s for another story).

Sadly, the more preferrable Cuaderno version was further revised by the constitutional convention’s committee on style. And that revision was approved and consequently included in the constitution (ratified on 14 May 1935) as Section 3 of Article XIV (General Provisions):

The Congress shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.

Section 10 of the same article further states that:

This Constitution shall be officially promulgated in English and Spanish, but in case of conflict the English text shall prevail.

Two years later, on 31 December 1937, Tagalog was chosen as the country’s national language. This, however, did not affect the Spanish language’s status as one of the country’s official languages. But the number of Spanish-speakers (many of whom were murdered during the Philippine-American War) began to decline. The statistics grew worse during World War II, particularly during the Liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese.

Japan preferred Tagalog

It is interesting to note that during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945), the Spanish as well as the English languages both lost their status as co-official languages when the Japanese invaders established on 14 October 1943 what is now known as the Second Philippine Republic. It, of course, had an accompanying constitution. Article IX (General Provisions), Section 2 of the 1943 Constitution states:

The government shall take steps toward the development and propagation of Tagalog as the national language.

Oddly, the Japanese opted for Tagalog instead of their own language to be included in the constitution. But this twist of linguistic fate was short-lived: the US reclaimed the Philippines two years after that Japanese-sponsored constitution was ratified.

This bloody reclamation was almost like a death-blow to the number of Spanish-speaking Filipinos. It also totally wiped out the Chavacano-speaking community of Ermita, Manila (Ermiteños).

The years that followed the war were years of poverty and misery. The number of Spanish-speaking Filipinos dwindled miserably as well. The few who survived migrated either to Spain, the US, or Australia and beyond. Those who opted to stay behind stayed because they could not just abandon nor sell their properties and businesses (this also explains why almost a majority of Spanish-speaking Filipinos remaining today are from the landed gentry and the elite).

Martial Law

Fast forward to 1970. The 1935 Constitution continued all the way to the Marcos years. On Marcos’ fifth year in the presidency, a constitutional convention was called to change the then existing law of the land. Special elections for the constitutional convention delegates were held on 10 November 1970.

The actual convention lasted around two years. Renowned linguist and scholar Señor Guillermo Gómez was chosen as the Language Committee Secretary of the 1971 Philippine Constitutional Convention. Under his helm, the same heated debates on language that happened in 1934 happened again. Once more, the Tagalog-language issue was raised. This resulted in Article XV (General Provisions), Section 3, sub-sections 1:

(1)This Constitution shall be officially promulgated in English and in Pilipino, and translated into each dialect spoken by over fifty thousand people, and into Spanish and Arabic. In case of conflict, the English text shall prevail.

In the foregoing section, the term language was erroneously called dialect. Tagalog was masked under the name Pilipino. And worse, the Spanish language was removed.

To further complicate the status of Spanish, sub-sections (2) and (3) of the same section further states:

(2) The National Assembly shall take steps towards the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino.

(3) Until otherwise provided by law, English and Pilipino shall be the official languages.

Knowing fully well that the number of native Filipino Spanish-speakers have dwindled throughout the decades, Señor Gómez, an ardent hispanista, thought it wisely to fight for Tagalog to become the country’s national/official language. As a polyglot and linguist, he knew fully well that the key to bring the Spanish language back to the mainstream was by propagating Tagalog, particularly the alphabet (including correct orthography) that represents it: the 32-letter Abecedario, the same alphabet used by Tagalogs and other Christianized natives during the Spanish and early American periods. According to him, all Filipino languages (i.e., the languages of Christianized lowlanders) are Chavacanos, but in varying degrees. Excluding the Chavacano languages of Ciudad de Cavite, Ternate, and Zamboanga, Tagalog is closest to Spanish, even closer to Hiligaynón, one of his native languages. And that is one major reason why Tagalog today is “Pilipinized” (again, another long story).

The 1973 Philippine Constitution was ratified on 17th of January, four months after the declaration of Martial Law.

Señor Gómez, however, had no power over the “renaming” of Tagalog as Pilipino, nor was he able to reinstate Spanish as a co-official language in the said constitution.

1973 Constitution absolved

Fast forward once more, this time to 25 February 1986, when Marcos was ousted due to popular outcry. His nemesis’ widow, Tita Cory, took over. During the transition period, a military-assisted constitution called the Freedom Constitution temporarily replaced the 1973 Constitution. The Freedom Constitution had no provisions at all about an official language due to its transitory nature. However, its successor, the 1987 Constitution —the one which we still use today—, states the following in Sections 7 and 8 of Article XIV (Language):

Section 7. For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.

The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.

Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

Section 8. This Constitution shall be promulgated in Filipino and English and shall be translated into major regional languages, Arabic, and Spanish.

The Spanish language made a comeback in the 1987 Constitution (proclaimed on 11 February 1987), but not as an official language. The clauses specified above gave credence to the fact that the drafters of the 1987 Constitution no longer gave Spanish the same importance that it had before. Héctor S. de León, in his widely used Textbook on the Philippine Constitution (Rex Book Store), summed it up this way:

The use of the Spanish language as an official language is no longer justified in view of the lessening influence of the language in the Philippines. It is not used by most Filipinos, English and Pilipino being preferred by them…

…Spanish and Arabic are languages of world importance spoken by many Filipinos. However, since they are not official languages, the government is not bound to promote their use They shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

Now, let us go back to the original question: why point an accusing finger at Tita Cory for the removal of the Spanish language when it is now apparent that its officiality became null and void since the 1973 Marcos Constitution?

Not exactly.

Many Filipinos do not know that on 15 March 1973, two months after the 1973 Constitution was ratified, Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 155 recognizing Spanish (alongside the English language) as one of the Philippines’ official languages! Below is the full text:

PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 155 March 15, 1973

RECOGNIZING THE SPANISH LANGUAGE AS AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN THE PHILIPPINES FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES

WHEREAS, Section 3 of Article XIV of the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines provided that “until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages;”

WHEREAS, Section 3(3) of Article XV of the new Constitution provides that “until otherwise provided by law, English and Pilipino shall be the official languages;

WHEREAS, a sizeable part of documents in government files are written in the Spanish language and have not been officially translated into either English or Pilipino language;

WHEREAS, it is advisable to maintain the legal admissibility of important documents in government files which are written in the Spanish language pending their translation into either English or Pilipino language; and

WHEREAS, Spanish language is a part of our priceless national heritage, which we share with the great Hispanic community of nations.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972, and General Order No. 1 dated September 22, 1972, do hereby order and decree that the Spanish language shall continue to be recognized as an official language in the Philippines while important documents in government files are in the Spanish language and not translated into either English or Pilipino language.

This Decree shall form part of the law of the land and shall take effect immediately.

Done in the City of Manila, this 15th day of March, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-three.

The presidential decree can speak for itself. No more explanation is needed as to why the 1973 Constitution should be absolved from “deleting” the Spanish language from our patrimony.

Please be advised that this blogpost is not meant to accuse nor to lay blame on anyone regarding the disappearance of the Spanish language from our country’s written statutes. This is simply meant to avoid any misunderstanding that might occur in future researches regarding the said topic. Marcos’ presidential decree is not widely known today, and it is high time that this should be explained online on the light of an apparent resurgence of interest in reviving the Spanish language. Several Business Process Outsourcing companies, regarded today as a “sunshine industry”, are in dire need of Spanish-speakers. President Noynoy Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal de Arroyo worked with former Secretary of Education Jesli Lapus, the Spanish Embassy in Manila, and the Instituto Cervantes de Manila to bring back the teaching of Spanish in Philippine schools.

And thanks to the internet, the clamor for the return of the Spanish language has found a new medium. Various online forums are now discussing the importance of Spanish in our history, culture, and identity as a nation. Several websites and blogs promoting the Spanish language in the Philippines are starting to appear. Even Facebook does not want to be left behind.

Indeed, now is the time to treat our past in a more positive light and a keener eye, and to grasp the real score —the unbreakable link— between the Spanish language and the Filipino national identity.

Will current President Noynoy Aquino, whose grandparents on either side of the family spoke Spanish, do the correct thing and reciprocate Marcos’ intelligent move in saving our hispanic heritage?

*******

This now-forgotten Marcos decree (presidential decree no. 155) was taken from Chan Robles Virtual Law Library.

The true Filipino language is OFFICIALLY back on track!!!

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¡Mecachis! Is this true?

IT IS TRUE!!!

Spain, Philippines sign agreement on Spanish language

Spain will help the Philippines reintroduce Spanish language instruction at public schools in the southeastern Asian country under an agreement signed Tuesday between the two nations.

The study of the language is currently voluntary at public high schools in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, but the government plans to make its availability widespread from 2012.

Under the agreement signed Tuesday, Madrid will help train Spanish language teachers in the Philippines, help develop the curriculum and provide electronic teaching aids as well as technical advice, the Spanish foreign ministry said.

It was signed by the Philippines’ Education Secretary Jesli Lapus and the Spanish education ministry’s director for international relations, José Manuel Mart¡nez Sierra in Barcelona, it added in a statement.

In 1987 the Philippines abolished Spanish as one of its official languages as well as a requirement that college students had to learn it.

The language, one of the world’s most spoken, has since largely vanished from everyday use in the country of just under 100 million people, with English and the local languages now commonly used.

Unlike in Madrid’s colonies in Latin America, the Spanish language was never as widespread in the Philippines, mainly because of the small number of Spanish settlers in the archipelago.

English was introduced to the country when it passed from Spanish to American control after the Spanish-American war of 1898. (Inquirer.net)

Mr. Lapus has been tirely working on this effort since Gloria Arroyo’s last official visit to Madrid in late 2007. Kudos to Mr. Lapus for an incredible achievement in Filipinism!

This is a great leap forward to recovering our true national identity which was taken away from us through a systematic leyenda negra perpetrated by neocolonial WASPs and their local lackeys. With the Spanish language all set to be taught in public schools, this will enable the ordinary Filipino youth to finally realize their “innate Spanishness”. And through this realization, the incontrovertibility of our “latinoness” will come into fruition.

As I’ve been harping for many years, Spanish is crucial to the Filipino character. No less than the great Senator Claro M. Recto summarized it this way…

It is certainly not for sentimental motives or deference to the great Spanish nation that gave her religion, language, and culture to half of the world that we profess devotion to this language but because of national egoism and because of imperatives of patriotism, because Spanish is already ours, our own, blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh, for so willed our martyrs, heroes and statesmen of the past and without it the inventory of our cultural patrimony would be wrong.

My comrade Arnaldo is correct in so many ways: our Spanishness makes us more Filipino.

A very special thenks to The Showroom Manager for the timely heads up!

“Paru-Parong Bukid” is actually a poor translation of “Mariposa Bella”

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Few people know that the popular Tagalog folk song Paru-Parong Bukid is actually a poor translation/rendition of the Spanish original which is entitled Mariposa Bella.

The original Spanish song was composed during the tumultuous decade of the 1890s. When the genocide of Spanish-speaking Filipinos commenced during the American invasion, the song itself was included in the casualty — little by little, many people started to forget it especially when the Thomasites began the English-language campaign in the country. The final nail in the coffin happened in 1938 when the Paru-Parong Bukid that we are all familiar with was released by Sampaguita Pictures as a soundtrack for the movie of the same name (it starred legendary actors Rudy Concepción and Rosario Moreno).

Of course, I haven’t seen the movie; but I can diss its accompanying theme song con mucho gusto.

In 1960, Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera (who was then doing radio production work on a DZFM program called “La Voz Hispanofilipina” made a research on Filipino songs which were sung in Spanish. His research resulted in a bestselling 1962 LP entitled Nostalgia Filipina.

Fifty years later, some friends of Señor Gómez demanded that he re-release Nostalgia Filipina in CD format for the sake of today’s generation. And with the help of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation, and the Ministerio de Cultura of the Spanish Embassy in Manila, Nostalgia Filipina was relaunched in CD format on 14 August 2007.

My contertulio in Círculo Hispanofilipino, fonsucu, uploaded Mariposa Bella in the YouTube video below:

Here are the lyrics.

Mariposa bella
de mi tierra inmortal
es la filipina
en su traje natal,
que ostenta unas mangas
con gracejo y sal
y saya de cola
de una pieza de percal.

Con peineta de carey ¡uy!
y un pañuelo coquetón,
y enaguas de ojetes
que la roza el talón,
con el tápiz real
sobre el talle sutil
y es la mariposa
del malayo pensil.

Con peineta de carey ¡uy!
y un pañuelo coquetón,
y enaguas de ojetes
que le roza el talón,
con el tápiz real
sobre el talle sutil
y es la mariposa
del malayo pensil.

Mariposa bella
de mi tierra inmortal
es la filipina
en su traje natal,
que ostenta unas mangas
con gracejo y sal
y saya de cola
de una pieza de percal.

Con peineta de carey ¡uy!
y un pañuelo coquetón,
y enaguas de ojetes
que le roza el talón,
con el tápiz real
sobre el talle sutil
y es la mariposa
del malayo pensil.

¡Olé!

With Jesli Lapus’ efforts in bringing back the Spanish language into our educational system, hopefully all Filipino folk songs that were sung in their original Spanish lyrics will be brought back to our airwaves. Right where they belong.

¡Feliz Día De La Hispanidad!

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Banderas de los países que hablan castellano.

Banderas de los países que hablan castellano.

Today, alongside with our Spanish-speaking brothers from around the globe, the Philippines should be celebrating el Día De La Hispanidad (Day of the Hispanic World). Other Spanish-speaking countries are greeting one another. But what about our country?

This is the first and last time I’ll say this on my blog: for all her, uh, “relentless efforts” in bringing back the Spanish language to our country, Spanish-speaking La Gloria sucks big time. For all eternity.

¡Viva Jesli Lapus!

¡Feliz Día De La Hispanidad!

¡Viva la raza!

*******

Below is a list of well-known Spanish-speaking people (local and foreign, both alive and those who already passed away). They speak (spoke) the language either as primary or acquired/learned:

Jon Achaval
Ben Affleck
Christina Aguilera
Pepe Alas (hehehe!)
Jessica Alba
Marc Anthony
Antonio Banderas
Marco Antonio Barrera
Durao Barroso (President of the European Union)
David Beckham
Beyonce
Ruben Blades
John Bon Jovi
Kobe Bryant
Jeb Bush
Niñez Cacho de Olivares
Roberto Carlos
Raffaella Carra
Dyan Castillejo
Ricardo Chavira
Roberto Clemente
Carlito Colón
Francis Ford Coppola
Pilita Corrales
Gemma Cruz de Araneta
Lula da Silva (President of Brazil)
Matt Damon
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Maggie de la Riva
Zach de la Rocha
Howie Dorough
Zack Efron
Héctor Elizondo
Gloria Estefan
Emilio Estevez
Jaime Fábregas
Giselle Fernández
Miguel Ferrer
América Ferrara
Amalia Fuentes
Nelly Furtado
Peque Gallaga
Andy García
Cheska García
Eddie García
Lilian García
Patrick García
Selena Gómez
Guillermo Gómez Rivera
José Marí González
Isabel Granada
Eddie Guerrero
Chavo Guerrero
Hassan II (King of Morocco)
Salma Hayek
Rita Hayworth
Terence Hill
Enrique Iglesias
Nick Joaquín
Marra Lánot
Tommy Lee Jones
Raúl Julia
John Kerry
Lorenzo Lamas
Ronnie Lázaro
John Leguizamo
Lindsay Lohan
Eva Longoria
Jennifer López
Nancy López
Sophia Loren (Italian actress)
Tony Mabesa
Edu Manzano
Imee Marcos
Ricky Martín
Olivier Martínez (French actor)
Matthew McConaughey
A.J. McLean
Eva Mendes
César Montano
Érik Morales
Rey Misterio, Jr.
Ricardo Montalbán
Manuel Morato
German Moreno
Rita Moreno
Viggo Mortensen
Barack Obama
Edward James Olmos
Gwyneth Paltrow
Laura Pausini
Pelé
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John Paul II
Isabel Preysler
Anthonny Quinn
Eros Ramazzotti
Jean Reno (French actor)
Robinho
Alejandro Roces
Michelle Rodríguez
Robert Rodríguez
César Romero
Alberto Rómulo
Ronaldinho
Cristiano Ronaldo
Linda Ronstadt
Loretta “Etta” Rosales
Saramago
Sarkozy (President of France)
Shakira
Omar Shariff (Egyptian actor)
Charlie Sheen
Martin Sheen
Domingo Siázon
Will Smith
Jimmy Smits
Solana (1st European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy)
Máximo Soliven
Bud Spencer
Sharon Stone
Thalía
Emma Thompson
Dayanara Torres
Lee Trevino
Katherine Turner
Val Venis
Richie Valens
Elizabeth Vargas
Rachel Welch
Xuxa
Daniella Zicarelli
Zinedine Zidane

I didn’t include Speedy Gonzáles because he’s a cartoon character. But yes, I believe he’s the best hispanohablante of them all!

¡Qué tengan un buen día!

c”,)

RELATED LINKS:
El Mes Español — A List Of Spanish-speaking Celebrities In The Philippines Today
¡Obama habla español! ¿pura retórica o una nueva política?
Spanish speaking celebrities

La langue française est revenue à nos écoles!

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FRANCE

During the Spanish times, the friars taught their Filipino students various languages and not just Spanish. French was taught in many Filipino schools, particularly in José Rizal’s Ateneo Municipal. That’s why our ancestors were well-rounded ladies and gentlemen, highly cultured, extremely refined.

Now, the teaching of the French language –together with Spanish, the most NOBLE of all Filipino languages– is back in some of our local schools:

Bonjour (Good morning), Philippines!

The Department of Education (DepEd) and the French Embassy Monday inked a deal to teach French in selected public high schools next year.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said teaching French in 13 science high schools was part of DepEd efforts to prepare Filipino students “for their role as global citizens.”

“On account of globalization, our graduates are competing with people from other countries when they join the workforce,” Lapus said in a statement. “Learning a widely used international language early on will give our graduates that competitive advantage.” (more at Inquirer.net

Merci, Jesli Lapus!

Good Procurement, Good Governance — Our Last Resort Against Corruption

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Use eProcurement to curb corruption once and for all!

Use eProcurement to curb corruption once and for all!

This is already old news, but it’s still worthy reading:

OVERPRICE CONTROVERSY
DepEd suspends order of noodles

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Education has suspended its purchase of P427 million worth of instant noodles from a supplier amid allegations raised in a Senate hearing that the food items were overpriced and lacked nutritive value.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus also informed Senator Mar Roxas, chair of the education committee, in a May 11 letter that he has also ordered a review of the department’s school feeding program.

The Roxas committee is leading the Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced instant noodles fortified with “malunggay” (Moringa sp.) and eggs that Jeverps Manufacturing Corp. has been supplying the DepEd.

Lapus said the review of the school feeding program would be conducted with the help of independent experts “with the objective of resolving questions such as nutritional content, cost-effectiveness and efficiency of field implementation.” The review is supposed to finish by next month.

Saying he was glad that Lapus had suspended the signing of the contract with Jeverps, Roxas on Tuesday announced that his committee would defer the inquiry into the controversy but would monitor the review of the school feeding program.

Roxas said the two hearings showed that the Jeverps instant noodles priced at P22 for each 100-gram packet was overpriced when compared to other noodles in the market.

He said Nestlé and Universal Robina Corp. had testified that their instant noodles cost P3.50 per pack, not including the costs for flavoring, enhancements and packaging.

At the hearing, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked how Jeverps would be able to get its supply of malunggay to produce 19 million instant noodle packs for the DepEd.

“I am not aware of any large-scale production of malunggay,” Enrile said.

Enrile later told reporters he doubted whether Jeverps had a supplier of malunggay.

“It casts doubt on the quality of the products being marketed with malunggay content,” Enrile said.

Roxas said he found it puzzling that the big noodle makers like Nestlé and Universal Robina Corp. were not aware of the DepEd’s bidding of contracts.

URC officials said they were invited by the DepEd to bid for its school feeding program only once in 2007. Nestlé officials said they did not get any invitation at all.

DepEd officials said the bidding for the noodle-supply contract was published in the newspapers.

It was learned at the hearing that Jeverps has been paid more than P750 million as a supplier of the DepEd’s Food for School Program for 800,000 first-grade and pre-school students in the past few years. (from Inquirer.net)

Since joining the eProcurement industry last January, I realized that eProcurement is the best solution to solve bad procurement practices in the Philippines.

Transprocure‘s Charlie Villaseñor, Asia’s eProcurement guru, is correct: with good procurement comes good governance. And since that is not the case with the Philippine government (as can be gleaned from the above report), it forced an angry military officer to rebel against it. That military officer is Antonio Trillanes IV who is now a detained Senator. Trillanes was a former procurement officer of the Naval Training and Education Command of the Philippine Navy. In that position, he successfully reformed his institution’s procurement system resulting to a savings of more than four million pesos. In that same position, he was able to witness first hand the massive corruption in the Philippine Navy’s procurement system — and that was just the tip of the presidential iceberg. Trillanes was against forces more powerful than him, but that didn’t stop him to rise up in arms. The rest is Oakwood history.

eProcurement enhances and promotes transparency in government contracts and biddings. According to David Magno, a Project Manager for Hubwoo, there has been prevailing news that the government had already implemented an eProcurement system throughout its bureaucracy. But suppliers got discontented over the system’s ineffective process, thus ending eProcurement’s spur of the moment in our government around four years ago. Hopefully, our current crop of presidential hopefuls (from Gilbert Teodoro to Noynoy Aquino III) will include in their program of government ways to properly and strictly deploy and implement eProcurement technology not only in all government departments but in all major businesses as well. This will help not only in curbing corruption, it will also help institutions in garnering massive financial savings — a potential boon for our economy. San Miguel Corporation is one best example.

Hubwoo‘s suite of solutions should be brought and implemented here in the Philippines. Although Hubwoo started only a decade ago, it is meticulously handled by management experts who are well-versed, experienced, and thoroughly exposed in the world of eProcurement. Furthermore, Hubwoo provides a fully integrated suite of tools and services, delivered as-a-service to companies. Impressively, it also boasts of the first SAP® global BPO partnership dedicated solely to procurement Right now, the French-based company is holding various roadshow events in the US and Europe to help explain more what its business is all about. Hopefully, it would be able to do the same here in Asia, ESPECIALLY the Philippines.

If Hubwoo won’t be able to solve the problem of corruption in our government’s and businesses’ procurement processes, THEN NOTHING WILL.

Related links:

eProcurement in the Philippines
Law review to improve e-procurement efficiency in Philippines

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