SPEECH ON THE PASSAGE
OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 119
(Adoption of the National Book Policy)
by:ATTY. DOMINADOR D. BUHAIN
(Governor, National Book Development Board and
President, Philippine Educational Publishers Association)
(Delivered on the occasion of the Information, Advocacy and
Bookwriting Seminar-Workshop for Luzon,
Central Luzon State University, Muñoz, Nueva Ecija
September 3-5, 1999)
The enabling act of the National Book Policy (Policy), Executive Order No. 119 (E.O) together with the Policy itself became operational after the publication in the Malaya issue dated July 17, 1999 after His Excellency President Joseph Estrada affixed his signature in the E.O last July 4, 1999.
This official affirmation by the President is of far reaching importance as the effort of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) after a series of exhaustive regional consultation with you and with others in practically all parts of the country after almost four years is now deemed the Act of the State.
As such, it becomes the law of the land. It becomes the Constitution for book publishing and that any actuation must therefore adhere thereto lest they be considered invalid or illegal with the corresponding sanctions. To reiterate, the primordial policy of R.A. No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act is to ensure the affordability, accessibility and quality of books from which the Policy was derived and necessarily all regulations should be in consonance with this objective.
Whereas during the past, the role of the Board was more of a gatherer of information to serve as bases for the formulation of this Policy, the Board is mandated this time to be more assertive in enforcing compliance with the Policy as it now prepares the groundwork for the formulation of the National Book Development Plan.
It may be exemplified by the heretofore issuances of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports on matters relating to the procurement of textbooks under a bidding scheme.
With the passage of the EO which is of a later date and by explicit provision of Section 1 thereof which states that ‘’the NBDB, in coordination and cooperation with the other concerned agencies, shall adopt and implement the policies embodied therein, provided that, with regard to the procurement of textbooks, applicable laws and/or issuances on public bidding shall be observed,’’ the authority to formulate the guidelines shall now bevested with the NBDB. It is hereby submitted that the NBDB shall now be empowered to determine among others the manner of bidding whether it be regional, provincial or school level.
Furthermore, the Policy is empowering the NBDB to determine the quality of paper to be used for textbooks. Under Implementing Policy No. 3.3, it states that ‘’the NBDB in consultation with the DECS and other governments units, shall issue guidelines that would help ensure the affordability of books by giving preference to the use of recycled paper and other inexpensive local raw materials in their production.’’
Implementing Policy No. 5.5 provides the following:
‘’Effective coordination between NBDB and the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) shall be established for the adoption of an efficient textbook procurement program;
- Textbook publishing with its built-in demand is anticipated to serve as catalyst for the enhancement of book publishing activities not only in Manila and other key cities but in the regions and provinces as well;
- The DECS shall initiate measures to decentralize evaluation of textbooks, references and other instructional materials particularly those which are locally developed and/or intended for specific geographic areas or cultural communities;
- School principals or equivalent officials shall be empowered to determine which books shall be purchased and used for their respective schools;
- The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall ensure timely release of budget necessary for DECS to produce needed textbooks prior to the start of any school year;
- Printing of public pre-elementary, elementary and secondary textbooks shall be done at the regional or provincial levels whenever economically feasible; and
- Filipino authorship of public pre-elementary, elementary and secondary textbooks shall be maintained;
- Budgetary allocation for textbooks and other instructional materials shall be increased in order to achieve the ideal student-textbook ratio in public elementary and secondary schools;
- In order to assess the pricing of books, a forum involving the government, the publishing industry and reader’s associations shall be maintained.’’
Under the rule of Statutory Construction with its Latin translation ‘’Utmagisvaleat quam pereat’’- ‘’That construction is to be sought which gives effect to the whole of the statute – its every word;’’ which means that if possible, all the above-cited provisions must be given legal efficacy in order to give meaning and flesh to the EO.
It is noteworthy to mention also that the inclusion of bidding in the EO is susceptible to legal queries. Implementing Policy No. 5.8 of the Policy provides that ‘’pricing is assessed during a forum involving the government, the publishing industry and the Readers Association,’’ which is therefore not consistent with bidding.
Legal analysts claim also that intellectual property as cite under the Morato – Caparas case which necessarily includes books can never be the subject of bidding based on existing jurisprudence.
Be that as it may, bidding, if done centrally is also contradictory to the decentralization spirit of the Policy.
Section 3 of the EO specially addressed the following entities and persons to observe compliance with the EO: the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Agency, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Board of Investments, the Department of Finance, the Bureau of Customs and private sector/stakeholders comprising of, but not limited to: book publishers, printers, book sellers and book authors.
The EO even provides reference to Section 14 of RA 8047 for any violation of the provisions of the Policy.
I therefore conclude this brief speech by expressing our thanks to each and everyone of you and to the President for giving cognizance to the efforts of the NBDB.