SENATORS differ over a plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the restoration of the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) for Grades 11 and 12 in public and private schools.
Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Joseph Victor Ejercito on Friday vowed to support the proposal of the President, both saying it will instill love of country among young Filipinos.
But Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th said the government should first get the position of students on the plan.
Gatchalian said instituting a mandatory ROTC program for senior high school students is a great way to bolster the military’s reserve corps while instilling the fundamental ideals of patriotism and public service among the youth.
“The future of this country will depend on the character and virtue of our future leaders. Mandatory ROTC programs at the secondary and tertiary levels will help ensure that the youth of today will lead the Philippines with honor, selflessness and love of country in the future,” he added.
Ejercito agreed, saying, “I experienced ROTC when I was still studying. It will help instill discipline in our youth but more important, it will help inculcate patriotism in our youth.”
Gatchalian appealed to Duterte to certify as urgent Senate Bill (SB) 200, which seeks to revive the mandatory ROTC program in college.
SB 200, one of the ten priority bills that he had filed, would require students enroled in colleges, universities and technical and vocational schools to complete a two-year ROTC program before graduation.
Gatchalian said having the law approved is not easy since not everyone agrees with the planned revival of the ROTC but that with the support of the President it could help convince some lawmakers to back the bill.
Aquino, in calling for consultations with students, said, “We want students and their parents to speak up on the government’s plan to revive the ROTC.”
The senator, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, also called on students, student councils and parents’ associations to express their views on the Duterte proposal by submitting position papers to his committee.
Aquino said he plans to conduct an online poll through their social media sites and provide students and parents an avenue to voice out their opinion before his committee conducts hearings on the issue.
At present, three bills calling for the revival of the ROTC are pending with the education committee–Senate Bills 1131, 200 and 189, authored by Ejercito, Gatchalian and Emmanuel Pacquiao, respectively.
The ROTC became optional in 2002 through RA 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001.