Gatchalian pushes for review of NSTP law

Published August 21, 2019, 3:00 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has sought a review of the country’s National Service Training Program (NSTP), saying it was necessary to make a thorough assessment of graduates volunteering for the Reserve Officers’ Training Course or ROTC.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Basic Education Committee, noted there was waning interest among graduates to join the ROTC, and noted that the implementation of the NSTP Law in 2002, which suspended the mandatory implementation of the ROTC program in tertiary level and made it ‘mere’ optional, led to the “drastic reduction” of enrollment in the ROTC program.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 97, the senator said a “comprehensive review of the NSTP law, particularly its ROTC component, will be necessary to measure its effectiveness and introduce appropriate legislative measures or amendments in the existing law with the goal of strengthening the country’s Reserve Force.”

“The state of the ROTC program today shows that it is challenged in many fronts – primarily issues not on waning enrollment but in a lack of ROTC graduates volunteering for the Ready Reserve, issues on leadership and diverse policies on designation of commandants in the ROTC units, the lack of manpower, logistics and funding, the lack of adequate training facilities,” Gatchalian stressed.

Gatchalian observed that from 314,225 in School Year (SY) 2000-2001, the number of ROTC enrollees dropped to 170,071 in SY 2002-2003, and further down to 106,892 in SY 2004-2005, “effectively creating serious repercussions on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Reserve Force.”

He added there were “issues on the Program of Instruction, which is not congruent with the war-fighting and nation-building mission of the Reserve Force to which the ROTC plays a vital role in producing the reservists it needs, as well as not fitting it to the generation of students today.”

“While the existing NSTP classes stir up the civic consciousness of our students, these do not fully attain the objective of developing military and defense preparedness among our youth especially in light of non-traditional threats brought about by natural disasters and climate change, as well as threats against our national security,” Gatchalian pointed out.

Gatchalian earlier re-filed Senate Bill No, 177, which seeks to establish a mandatory two-year basic ROTC program for all senior high school students in private and public schools.

Under the bill, the ROTC program would put a premium on disaster preparedness and capacity-building for risk-related situations.

Gatchalian said the revival of the ROTC program will inculcate discipline among the youth through the enhancement of the values of leadership, camaraderie, and sacrifice for common objectives.