Youth groups oppose mandatory ROTC
YOUTH groups in Cebu have opposed the proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in college and make it a requirement for Grades 11 and 12 in senior high school.
Anakbayan-Cebu and Akbayan-Cebu, in separate statements yesterday, said compelling students to join ROTC might only lead to abuses perpetrated by those who are in power.
“It has already put the lives and safety of students at the hands of military-trained fellow students,” said Anakbayan-Cebu chairperson Joisa Andrea Cesista.
Akbayan-Cebu urged the Duterte administration to give the students freedom to choose their National Service Training Program (NSTP) course.
“We also firmly believe that students should be given the freedom to decide on which NSTP program to enroll in – be it CWTS (Civic Welfare Training Service) or ROTC. Following this, we argue that students should only be enrolled in the ROTC program because they want to and not because they are required to,” said Akbayan-Cebu chairperson Angelo Gabriel Besuña.
Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu City Division Superintendent Bianito Dagatan, reached for comment, said he has reservations about the program.
“If its main agenda is for citizenship training and character building, then it is good for our students. But I have reservations,” Dagatan said in a text message to CDN.
Dagatan said it would be better if measures are in place not only to ensure the safety of the students but also to avoid malpractices and abuses, such as hazing.
“There is nothing wrong if ROTC will be mandatory to senior high school. As long as enough safeguards are in place to ensure that malpractices like hazing will not happen,” he said.
Dagatan also said that students who are active in citizenship training activities like scouting should also be exempted.
“Likewise, exemptions would still be okay for those not capable of joining and for those active in other character building and citizenship training activities like scouting,” he added.
President Duterte said he might issue an executive order (EO) making the ROTC program mandatory for Grades 11 and 12 (senior high school) students if Congress would fail to act on it soon.
In a speech in Tanza, Cavite, on Thursday night, the President pushed for the revival of the compulsory ROTC program, which he said would instill patriotism among the youth.
“I likewise encourage Congress to enact a law that will require mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 so we can instill patriotism, love of country among our youth,” he said during the 35th founding anniversary of the Army Reserve Command at Camp Riego de Dios.
“If it can be done through an EO, executive order, I might be forced to, if they do not act on it. I said this is a constitutional requirement that you must be prepared to defend your country,” he added.
But in order to make the ROTC program compulsory for senior high school students, Congress needs to amend Republic Act No. 7077, or the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act, as well as Republic Act No. 9163, or the National Service Training Program Act.
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