‘Anti-people’ policies ‘trigger’ mental health problems among youth, says Gabriela

“Anti-people” government policies, such as mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), will neither cure nor solve mental health problems of the country's youth, said Gabriela Women’s Partylist on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

This was after National Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. got called out for his “insensitive” remark about mental health during a Senate hearing held Monday, Feb. 6. The official later clarified his statement, saying the enhanced ROTC program would help “build the strength of character and resilience of youth — qualities which positively foster mental health.”

Gabriela Women’s Partylist, however, stood their ground and rejected the possible revival of this measure.

(Manila Bulletin File Photo)

“Hindi mandatory ROTC ang sagot sa mental health issues ng mga kabataan kundi ligtas, kalidad, abot kayang edukasyon, at serbisyong medikal (Mandatory ROTC is not the answer to mental health issues of youth, but safe, quality, affordable education, and medical services),” said Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Arlene Brosas in a statement on Tuesday.

“Lalo lamang lalala ang lugmok na sitwasyon ng kabataan kung tuturuan silang maging sunud-sunuran kaysa maging kritikal (The dire situation of youth will only worsen if they are taught to be submissive rather than critical),” Brosas added.

Data issued by the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that during Academic Year 2021-2022 alone, 404 students took their own lives while 2,147 attempted suicide.

Mandatory ROTC in the Philippines was abolished following the death of Mark Chua, then 19-year-old student of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) who exposed the alleged corruption in the University’s ROTC program.