Mandatory ROTC for SHS students violates int’l law — Hontiveros | Inquirer News
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Mandatory ROTC for SHS students violates int’l law — Hontiveros

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 02:49 PM May 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed revival of mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for grades 11 and 12 students in public and private schools could be in violation of international law, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday.

Hontiveros said Senate Bill No. 2232, which seeks to require senior high students to participate in the ROTC program, will violate the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a protocol to which the Philippines is a party of.

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Hontiveros added that the protocol mandates that underaged persons — those under 18 years old — are not “compulsorily recruited into the armed forces.”

“Most students enrolled in Grades 11 and 12 are 16 to 17 year-olds. They are minors,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

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“Since the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is also composed of a ‘citizens’ armed force which shall undergo military training,’ we would be violating our international commitment if we compulsorily recruit into the reserved forces those who are not of the age of majority,” she added.

Hontiveros said the program should “remain optional” and that students “must be given options of how to fulfill their socio-civic responsibilities to the country.”

“I am curious as to why we look to mandatory militarism as a way to promote nationalism, whilst at the same time removing National Language and Panitikan as mandatory courses in schools?,” the senator said.

“Mandatory militaristic courses don’t have the monopoly of inculcating love of country. Love of country should be an expression of a deeper understanding of social responsibility,” Hontiveros said.

She also expressed concerned over the funding and logistical requirements in making the ROTC program mandatory, noting that the country currently has 11,000 high schools.

“How do we overcome the financial burden of institutionalizing ROTC in all these high schools? How can we assure the public of proper implementation when we can barely sustain our K to 12 program?” Hontiveros said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has already endorsed  the measure for plenary approval in the Senate.

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READ: Senate to push higher cigarette taxes, ROTC

The House of Representatives has also approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 8961, their version of the bill that seeks to revive the mandatory ROTC for senior high students. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)

READ: Mandatory ROTC for Senior HS students gets final House nod

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