Philippines did not announce it would scrap senior high school for military service

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The Philippines has not announced an overhaul to the education system that would replace classes with military service for students in the final two years of high school. Representatives from the presidential office and education department said they had not announced any such policy. Only the country's legislature can alter the basic education programme and it has not taken any action, as of January 27.

"DepEd's K-12 is scrapped. This is the palace's sudden orders," reads the Tagalog-language thumbnail of a YouTube video posted on January 12.

K-12 is the Philippines' national education programme which mandates 13 years of schooling, from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The scheme was established in 2013 in a bid to align basic education in the Philippines with the rest of the world.

But concerns about the quality of the curriculum prompted the Department of Education (DepEd) to launch a review of K-12 in 2019.

The YouTube video, which has more than 340,000 views, features a narrator saying that Malacanang Palace, the president's official residence, "confirmed" on January 10 that basic education had been revised.

The narrator claims that the final two years of K-12 -- grades 11 and 12 -- have been scrapped and replaced with military training.

The video then shows a clip from a press briefing from January 10 by the Presidential Communications Office, followed by a YouTube video about K-12 by a social media personality.

Screenshot of false post taken on January 18, 2023

Similar video clips viewed more than 1.4 million times in total were also posted on YouTube here and here; and on Facebook here, here and here.

Some social media users appeared to believe the government genuinely announced it was replacing grades 11 and 12 with military service.

"Thank you Vip (sic) Sara Duterte, k12 doesn't help any students to obtain a job abroad, as well as in the Philippines," read one comment.

"I agree with just providing military training. K to 12 is a burden to our lives," another wrote.

Baseless claim

Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte -- who also serves as education secretary -- has spearheaded calls to make military service mandatory for 18-year-olds.

However, the government has not made any announcement about this -- or replacing the final years of K-12 with military service, as of January 27.

Department of Education spokesman Michael Poa told AFP on January 24 that there was "no truth" to the claim shared on social media and that the review of K-12 announced in 2019 was "still ongoing".

Presidential Communications Office chief Cheloy Garafil also said that the presidential palace had made no announcement about overhauling K-12.

"Not true. It's still under review by DepEd," she told AFP on January 25.

Furthermore, the government would require legislation if it wanted to replace the final two years of the curriculum with military service. It could not simply announce such a measure.

The 2013 law that established K-12 is Republic Act No. 10533.

A "Republic Act" is the official name for a law created by the legislature.

According to the Official Gazette, the country's repository of legislation and presidential orders, a "Republic Act" can only be changed by the legislature.

A check of the websites of the House of Representatives and the Senate found no bill seeking to replace grades 11 and 12 with military service.

The full press briefing shared in the footage shows a presidential palace official setting out plans for "inclusive learning", "support for teachers" and a revised curriculum to be presented on January 30. She does not mention military service.