House panel oks revival of mandatory ROTC for grades 11, 12
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on basic education and culture swiftly approved on Wednesday a bill seeking to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) for grades 11 and 12 (senior high school) in public and private schools nationwide.
During the second hearing of the committee, Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo Abu, one of the bill authors, made the motion to approve the still unnumbered substitute bill. The bill was approved in less than seven minutes and without objection.
The proposed law was mostly based on Abu’s House Bill No. 5113, Rep. Ramon Durano VI, the panel chair, said.
The other bills on reviving the ROTC are House Bill Nos. 5097 and 8651.
The approved bill, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7077 or the “Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act,” aims to “instill patriotism, love of country, moral and spiritual virtues, respect for human rights and adherence to the Constitution.”
Durano said the approval follows the House leadership’s policy to expedite the approval of measures.
“At this point, we need to take action on these said bills based on the policy of the Majority Leader and the Speaker that all bills should be taken action upon and the committee should never have any pending bills, local or national in scope,” the Cebu 5th District congressman said.
The proposed measure states that ROTC would apply to “all students in grades 11 and 12 in all senior high schools in public and private educational institutions. Section 4C of the bill also makes the ROTC training a requirement for graduation.
The following students may be exempted:
- Those who are physically or psychologically unfit;
- Those who have undergone or are undergoing similar military training;
- Those who are chosen by their school to serve as the school’s varsity players in sports competition;
- Those who may be exempted from training for valid reasons as approved by the Department of National Defense, upon recommendation by an educational institution where the concerned student is enrolled.
This came more than two months after President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to “expedite” the restoration of ROTC for senior high school students to “instill patriotism, love of country among our youth.” If Congress fails to act on it, he said he might issue an executive order (EO) to require it.
RELATED STORY: Duterte mulls issuing EO for mandatory ROTC
The bill also requires basic military training for students “in order to motivate, train, organize and utilize for national defense preparedness or civil–military operations, except students who are below 18 years old.
Aside from this, programs enhancing the students’ consciousness in the ethics of service, patriotism, and nationalism, among others would be part of the ROTC training.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago condemned the “railroading” of the mandatory ROTC, saying the committee has “allowed a program that has been a hotbed of abuses and corruption in school.”
The opposition lawmaker further argued that under the previous mandatory ROTC, reports of physical and psychological abuse had been far too common.
“Officers humiliate, brutalize and even maim cadets in the guise of ‘training.’ These abusive practices are deeply ingrained and identified with the ROTC and the military,” she added.
The progressive lawmaker also said the Armed Forces of the Philippines uses the ROTC program “to establish the Student Intelligence Network (SIN) to monitor student councils, organizations, and publications critical of government policies.” /jpv
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