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PAMFILO D. CATACATACA

       The 1987 Constitution, Article XIV, Section 7 states that “for purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.”

       Executive Order No. 335, signed by President Corazon C. Aquino on August 25, 1988, enjoins all departments/bureaus/offices/agencies/instrumentalities of the government to take such steps as are necessary for the purpose of using Filipino language in official transactions, communications and correspondence. This order is practically a reiteration of several orders and memoranda issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos; e.g. Executive Order No. 96 (October 24, 1967) decreeing that all government edifices, buildings and offices be named in Pilipino (now Filipino), Memorandum Circular No. 172 (March 27, 1968) directing strict compliance with Executive Order No. 96 and the use of Pilipino in official letterheads and for oaths of office of all government officials and personnel; and Memorandum Circular No. 384 (August 17, 1970) requiring all government offices to assign personnel who will take charge of official correspondence in Pilipino (Filipino).

       The specific instructions of the Order are: (1) to take steps to enhance the use of Filipino in official transactions, communications and correspondence in their respective offices, national and local; (2) assign one or more personnel, as may be necessary, in every office to take charge of all communications and correspondence written in Filipino; (3) translate into Filipino names of offices, buildings, public edifices, and signboards of offices, divisions or its instrumentalities, and if so desired, imprint below in smaller letters the English text; (4) Filipinize the “Oath of Office” for government officials and personnel; and (5) make as part of the training programs for personnel development in every office the proficiency in the use of Filipino in official transactions, communications and correspondence.

       The Commission on the Filipino Language (CFL), a government office in charge of the devopment and propagation of the national language, under the Office of the President (R.A. No. 7140, s. 1991), is instructed with the full and effective implementation of the objectives of the Order. The CFL replaced the Institute of Philippine Languages (1987-1991) which, in turn, replaced the former Institute of National Language (1937-1987). The CFL is also one of the cultural agencies attached to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS).

       For the implementation of the Order the CFL was directed to formulate and implement programs and projects which include: (1) information campaign on the importance and necessity of Filipino as an effective instrument for national unit and progress; (2) translation into Filipino of Executive Order No. 335 as well as government terms and phrases to be utilized as reference materials for all offices; (3) training of all government officials and personnel in use of Filipino; (4) monitoring of the implementation of the Order and submitting periodic progress report of implementation directly to the office of the President of the Philippines or thru the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS); and (5) taking into account other strategies for full implementation of the objectives of the Order.

       The Order does not prohibit the use of English in official communications and correspondence, for the Constitution provides that Filipino and English are the official languages of the country. However, the regional languages can be used as auxiliary languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein, but shall not replace Filipino and English.

       All government departments, bureaus, offices, agencies and instrumentalities, government-owned or controlled corporations included, are not only expected to take the necessary measures to promote the use of Filipino in their official transactions, communications and correspondence, in their respective offices and jurisdiction to accomplish the objectives of the Order but also to internalize such objectives; and officials and employees are expected to be proficient in Filipino through seminars, workshops, and other forms of training.

       For the speedy and effective implementation of the Order,  the CFL has prepared and published the necessary materials which include: (1) Patnubay sa Korespondensya (1983 and 1987 editions); (2) Alpabeto at Patnubay sa Ispeling ng Wikang Filipino; (3) Salin sa Filipino ng mga Tanggapang Pampamahalaan; (4) Mga Katawagang Pampamahalaan; (5) Diksyunaryo ng Wikang Filipino; (6) Manwal sa Korespondensya Opisyal, and several other publications.

About the Author:
Pamfilo D. Catacataca obtained his Ph.D. in Language Teaching at the University of the Philippines. He was named Outstanding Employee (1967) of the Institute of National Language where he was Director IV from 1993 to 1997.He teaches at the Graduate Division of the National Teachers College.