President Rodrigo Duterte plans to revive mandatory ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for all college students, both male and female in the next school year, as announced by Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo this Tuesday, August 2. However, Kabataan Partylist strongly opposes the idea, and explained the reasons why.
According to Panelo, the daft of the proposed revival of the mandatory ROTC was presented to President Duterte on Monday during the Cabinet meeting, and the president supported the idea. The said proposal was made in the hope to inspire the youth to have discipline and to show love for the country, and to help keep them away from illegal drugs.
Panelo added that all Cabinet members also agree with President Duterte saying, “Let us also strengthen our ROTC program to instill love of country and good citizenship.” his first SONA (State of the Nation Address) last July 25. This Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella echoed to the media that President Duterte is supporting the said proposal.
On the same day, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago released a statement, saying that compulsory ROTC is “inimical to the rights and welfare of students.” To show her strong opposition, she filed House Bill 2399 or the “ROTC Abolition Act of 2016,” and mentioned several reasons why ROTC should be abolished permanently from the college curriculum.
As noted by Elago, RTOC is inconsistent with Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act which states that “public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and rural health units shall not be utilized for military purposes such as command posts, barracks, detachments, and supply depots.”
In addition, Kabataan Partylist representative said that providing military training, institutional or material support, should not be the responsibility of civilian educational institutions. She also noted that as college students, they have different background and beliefs, and that the ROTC program imposes the military worldview of the youth.
Elago also cited that corruption is rampant in the ROTC program, where many students just give money or do favors to the officers so that they will pass the course without attending any single training day. But more importantly, she noted news reports about humiliation and physical abuses of college students while ROTC training is going on.
The ROTC became optional in 2002 through Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001. This gave college students the option to take either the Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) or Literacy Training Services. This is after Mark Chua, a University of Sto. Tomas student, was killed in March 2001 after he exposed alleged corruption within the organization.