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Gatchalian files bill restoring mandatory 2-year ROTC in tertiary schools


A SENATOR has filed a bill seeking to restore a compulsory two-year military training program in tertiary schools nationwide.  

Senate Bill 1551 or the Mandatory Basic Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Act, filed by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, also seeks to reinstitute a two-year voluntary Advance ROTC Program at the tertiary level.  

The measure covers all students enrolled in any undergraduate degree, diploma, or certificate program in all public and private universities, colleges, vocational schools, and other tertiary educational institutions.  

The ROTC requirement was abolished in 2002 with the passage of Republic Act 9163, which established the National Service Training Program (NSTP).  

Under the NSTP, the ROTC became one of the options for the two-semester program. The other choices are Civic Welfare Training Service or Literacy Training Service.  

Moves to abolish the ROTC as a mandatory program was prompted by the murder of a private university student who reported on corruption in the system with students paying off military training officers to skip but pass the requirement.   

Under the new bill, the basic ROTC program will include basic military and leadership training as well as civic training and enhanced preparedness during disaster response operations.  

The program is intended to enhance the capacity of the nation and its human resource in times of war, calamities and disasters, as well as national or local emergencies.  

NOT IN SENIOR HIGHMr. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, has withdrawn a similar bill he filed earlier covering senior high school students.   

Mr. Gatchalian said adding the basic ROTC program in senior high school will be counterproductive given the country’s learning crisis worsened by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.   

The Philippines’ learning poverty is among the highest in the Asian region, with nine of 10 Filipinos unable to read and understand short, age-appropriate texts by the age of 10, according to a World Bank report. It added that 5% of children who should be in primary school are not enrolled. 

The senator said the proposed mandatory ROTC program in the tertiary level will still be able to gather a substantial number of senior high graduates, citing that in the past four years, an average of 81% of senior high graduates enroll in college.  

“We are promoting the return of Basic ROTC to teach our youth discipline and love for our country, especially since they will lead the country one day,” Mr. Gatchalian said in Filipino in a statement on Monday. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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