Only left-leaning groups are opposed to the proposal to make the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory for Grade 11 and 12 students.
This was the reaction of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato when asked to comment on claims of some sectors that making ROTC mandatory for high school students will violate the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Right now, the only groups who oppose the reimplementation of mandatory ROTC are the left-leaning groups and they are just a noisy negligible group compared to those who support ROTC,” he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency on May 30, 2019.
The House of Representatives earlier voted 167-4-0 to approve House Bill 8961, which makes it mandatory for senior high school students to enroll in ROTC, on its third and final reading.
“While we respect international laws, we are also a sovereign country that has a lawmaking body that passes laws applicable to us. In the past, third year and 4th year high school students were already given a CAT (Citizens Army Training) required to all 4th year high school students and optional to third year (only those who wants to become officers in CAT when they reach 4th years) and mandatory ROTC to college students (usually four semesters),” Detoyato added.
House Bill 8961 seeks to amend for the purpose Republic Act 7077 or the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act. Under the proposed measure, ROTC training would apply to “all students in Grades 11 and 12 in all senior high schools in public and private educational institutions.”
The bill also states that ROTC training shall be a requirement for graduation.
As provided, the following students may be exempted: those who are physically or psychologically unfit; those who have undergone or are undergoing similar military training; those who are chosen by their school to serve as the school’s varsity players in sports competition; and those who may be exempted from training for valid reasons as approved by the Department of National Defense, upon recommendation by an educational institution where the concerned student is enrolled.
The proposed measure also strictly prohibits the use of ROTC training for “political” objective and for teaching and instilling a particular political ideology on students. House Bill 8961 also specifically bans hazing and other forms of physical or mental abuse. (Priam Nepomuceno, PNA)