By Mario Casayuram
Responding to President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday urging Congress to revive the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for students in grades 11 and 12, neophyte Senator Imee R. Marcos said there are other ways to love and serve our country besides fighting wars.
Marcos thus filed Senate Bill 413 to push for a “Citizen Service Program” (CSP) in grade school to college.
The lady lawmaker stressed that “civic involvement and not just mandatory military training could enhance discipline and patriotism among the youth.”
The CSP “still accommodates President Duterte’s call for military training for the youth but allows college students the choice of training instead in community service, disaster preparedness, and environmental protection to develop a sense of ‘bayanihan’, which is embodied in Filipino culture and history,” she explained.
Calling ROTC “explicitly military,” Marcos said that making military training an option for college-level students instead of a requirement for those in grade 11 and 12 respects United Nations Resolution 1261 and other declarations on the rights of a child and children in armed conflict.
The Marcos bill ensures free health insurance and medical services to students who opt for ROTC training, while officers will earn stipends.
“This has been my position even during the time my father was president,” Marcos explained.
Marcos is one of the three children of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
The YCAP (Youth Civic Action Program) and YDT (Youth Development Training) of which students in the 70’s are familiar with was borne out of that father-and-daughter argument, she said.