Bill filed reviving ROTC for college students
MANILA, Philippines – A bill has been filed at the House of Representatives seeking the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) to instill patriotism among college students in the face of disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea.
Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian is making a push for the return of the ROTC program as a prerequisite for graduation among tertiary level students through House Bill 2338.
In an explanatory note, the congressman said the ROTC would be a means of “inculcating in the youth patriotism and nationalism in the wake of renewed activities of the Chinese military in the contested Kalayaan group of islands,” or the Spratlys.
The ROTC, a military training program, was made optional under the National Service Training Program (NSTP) in 2001 in response to fatal hazing activities.
Under the two-year NSTP, students may choose from three options on which program to take: the ROTC, the literary training service, or the civic welfare training service.
But Gatchalian said making ROTC mandatory again would be in line with a provision in the 1987 Constitution that “the Government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service.”
Under his bill, the ROTC shall again form part of the curriculum of all college degree and vocational courses and be a prerequisite for graduation. Students shall be required to complete the ROTC for two years.
“Now is the opportune time to re-institutionalize the basic military and officer training for our tertiary students. By this legislation, we provide the appropriate training to ensure their readiness to respond to the call of service,” said Gatchalian, a member of the House foreign affairs committee.
“The ROTC program will bolster confidence in our military preparedness and capability while at the same time provide our country with the support of our student-cadet reservists and potential commissioned officers,” he said.
The lawmaker’s statement came on the heels of a protest lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs over China’s reported reclamation project on a disputed reef in the South China Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the DFA sent a note verbale to China on Oct.10 regarding its reported construction activities, including the building of an airstrip, on Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef.
The Philippines claims Kagitingan Reef as part of its territory in the Kalayaan group of islands in a part of the South China Sea it calls the West Philippine Sea.
China considers almost the entire South China Sea to be its own, covering territories claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Taiwan.