A PROFESSOR and writer has urged Filipinos to continue reading the books banned by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) for supposedly being anti-government.
“Tuloy lang sa pagbabasa at pagsusulat. Kahit anong sabihin ng mga awtoridad na bawal ito at bawal yan, wala silang magagawa (Continue reading and writing. Even if authorities say this or that is prohibited, they cannot do anything),” David San Juan, a professor at the De La Salle University’s Filipino department, said in a KWF-organized webinar held this month.
“Basahin pa rin natin kasi walang librong bawal, tayo ay malaya…Mas pinagbabawal, mas manggigil tayong basahin lahat ng pwedeng basahin para mas lalo tayong lumaya (Read them because no book is prohibited. The more these books are prohibited, the more eager we will be in reading them so we will be more free),” he added.
KWF recently issued an internal memorandum seeking to stop the distribution of five books that were deemed to contain “political,” “subversive,” and “anti-government” content. The memorandum claimed that the books’ contents could incite its readers to commit terrorism and violate Article 9 of the anti-terror law.
“Kagyat na iniaatas ang tuluyang pagpapatigil sa lahat ng aklat na may nilalamang politikal, subersibo, at mga malikhaing akdang may subliminal na ideolohiyang nanghihimok at/o nakapag-uudyok na labanan ang pamahalaan (The immediate ban of all books whose contents are political, subversive and whose creative works have subliminal ideology that encourages people to fight the government),” the memo dated Aug. 9, 2022 read.
The books covered by the ban are “Teatro Pulitikal Dos” by Malou Jacob, “Kalatas: Mga Kuwentong Bayan at Kuwentong Buhay” by Rommel Rodriguez, “Tawid-diwa sa Pananagisag ni Bienvenido Lumbera: Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat, at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979” by Dexter Cayanes, “May Hadlang ang Umaga” by Don Pagusara and “Labas: Mga Palabas sa Labas ng Sentro” by Reuel Aguila.
KWF Commissioner for the Ilocano Language Benjamin Mendillo, one of the officials who signed the memo, said that the books contained citations from the Communist Party of the Philippines’ publications.
“These kinds of text are beyond the mandate of our agency on linguistic formation of grammar, orthography, translation studies, ethnographic studies, and language revitalization,” Mendillo said in a recent media interview.
San Juan likened the situation to the censorship during the time of Jose Rizal, whose novels triggered nationalism during the Spanish colonial period.
“Pinagbawal ang mga nobela ni rizal, oh hanggang ngayon binabasa pa rin natin (The novels of Rizal were banned but until now, we are reading them),” he said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has filed a resolution seeking to review KWF’s memo, saying the commission’s act of censorship is “unconstitutional” and an “assault on academic freedom.”
Lagman said KWF’s primary mandate is to ensure and promote the enrichment of the Filipino language and “has no power to destroy or proscribe writings in Filipino.”
San Juan’s online lecture titled “Wikang Filipino: Daluyan ng Kakayahan at Karunungan” was organized by the KWF as part of the annual celebration of Buwan ng Wika. F – K.R. Nogoy and M.M. Mangubat