House leaders seek passage of mandatory ROTC bill

Published August 17, 2019, 7:46 PM

by CJ Juntereal

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu of Batangas and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco sought the approval of the bill making the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for Grades 11 and 12, as the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture is set to tackle the 13 mandatory ROTC measures on Tuesday, August 20.

House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN/ MANILA BULLETIN/ FILE PHOTO)
House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN/ MANILA BULLETIN/ FILE PHOTO)

“The inculcation of the spirit of nationalism, nation-building, and national preparedness among the country’s population is vital to nation’s survival,” Abu said.

He said his House Bill 2087, which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7077 or the “Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act”, seeks to use schools as instruments of nationalism, nation-building, and national preparedness.

Abu’s HB 2087 provides for the establishment of a mandatory two-year Basic ROTC program for students enrolled in Grade 11 and 12.

It tasks the Department of National Defense (DND) Department of Education (DepEd), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to design and formulate the Program of Institution (POI) on the ROTC program in Grades 11 and 12.

Graduates of two-year basic ROTC and who have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree shall be considered as first level service eligibles; and graduates with Advance ROTC and who finished a four-year course shall be considered as second level civil service eligibles, according to the bill.

“If implemented efficiently, it would have the potential to produce an entire generation of young Filipinos who will be proud of their Filipino heritage and are ready to give the entirety of their being to serve their countrymen, to defend the State at all cost,” Abu said.

For his part, Villafuerte noted that since the passage of Republic Act 9163, otherwise known as the “National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001, which made ROTC optional and voluntary, the number of ROTC enrollees and graduates has declined.

“This has caused concerns over the sustainability of the Armed Forces of Philippines reserve manpower supply, and consequently, on the capacity of the government to respond to any national threat or national emergency,” he said.

The author of the House Bill 2447 or the proposed Senior High School ROTC Act said restoring ROTC will motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness.

“This will also positively shape their character to become more responsible and dependable citizens. Thus, should the government need to defend the State, our people will be well-prepared for the contingency to render personal, military or civil service,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte’s bill provides that any student who fails to undergo the mandatory basic ROTC shall not be qualified for graduation.

It provides that a student who has completed the Basic ROTC program in senior high school shall be registered in the Reserve Force only upon reaching the age of 18.

It also calls for the creation of a Grievance Committee, a cluster of educational institutions that shall receive complaints and conduct motu proprio probe on any complaint or allegation of abuse, violence or corruption in any educational institution implementing the Basic ROTC program.

For his part, Velasco, chairman of the House Committee on Energy, said the values of patriotism, awareness of the Filipino identity, and readiness to protect the country should be instilled to every Filipino.

He filed House Bill 1192 seeking to reimpose the mandatory ROTC training among the students.

“This measure on the reimposition of mandatory ROTC training among Grades 11 and 12 students must be passed and enacted.  It is through this bill that we can best preserve the national identity through the youth and at the same time, we are planting with them the seeds of patriotism and nationalism,” Velasco said.

Velasco’s bill calls for the creation of a Grievance Board that would investigate and resolve any and all complaints, in any form, involving corruption and abuse, in any form, in the ROTC program.

The Board seeks to ensure that that the ROTC program be free from politicization, it said.

The bill tasks the school or the university and its administrators to exercise special parental authority and supervise the implementation of the ROTC.

Other House leaders who also sought the approval of the ROTC measure are Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino, chairman of the House Committee on Accounts; Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN partylist Rep. Michael Romero, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres, chairperson of the House Committee on Disaster Management; and Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the mandatory ROTC bill during the previous 17th Congress.

 
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