By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacanang is optimistic that the proposed return of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students will still be passed by the next Congress.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Senate was reportedly unable to pass the priority measure endorsed by President Duterte due to lack of time.
“If it lacks time, there is another new Senate coming up so I don’t think that’s a problem,” Panelo said during a press conference at the Palace.
“I think they, the members of the Senate, also like this particular bill,” he added when asked if the Palace was confident the measure will pass in the 18th Congress.
President Duterte earlier certified as urgent the bill seeking to restore ROTC in Grades 11 and 12 in public and private schools in the country.
Duterte, in a letter sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III last Monday, said the Senate No. 2232 or the proposed Senior High School Reserve Officers Training Corps Act would restore basic military and leadership trainings for the youth “to invigorate their sense of nationalism and patriotism necessary in defending the State and to further promote their vital role in nation-building.”
The Senate, however, reportedly could no longer accommodate the President’s request since the debate on the ROTC measure will take time, according to Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Sessions will end on Tuesday, while the 17th Congress formally adjourns on June 7.
Panelo, meantime, dispelled concerns that the ROTC program would only foster blind obedience and discourage critical thinking among students.
He said such mandatory training program would actually teach discipline and nationalism among the Filipino youth.
“I share the view that all citizens, able bodied citizens of the Philippines, male… kahit na female should be required to have compulsory military training for our own security,” he said.
“You’re taught there to handle firearms, how to have discipline, you are lectured on many things even on laws and history,” he said.
He said ROTC would also help promote discipline among senior high school students especially since some youth are distracted by modern gadgets.
“Because of the onset of technology parang ang concentration lahat puro sa high-tech instruments like telephone, laptop at kung anu-ano pa. Parang wala nang disiplina [It seems there is no discipline anymore],” he said.