MANILA -- The proposed Senate measure that seeks to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is being eyed to be passed into law before the year ends, said bill author Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
But what’s new in Senate Bill 2034 or the “Reserve Officers’ Training Corps” Act being carried by Committee Report 62 is the inclusion of women in the two-year ROTC mandatory training.
Covered by the mandatory training are college and vocational training course students, be it a Filipino citizen or foreigner.
The ROTC training will serve as a pre-requisite for graduation, Dela Rosa said.
“I-require natin na ang program of instruction nila ay hindi lang limited to military subjects. Hindi lang militaristic, kundi subject diyan yung disaster response, environmental preservation, kasama na diyan yung personality development, discipline, moral development, intellectual development ng mga estudyante. Personality development, discipline, patriotism, nationalism,” said Dela Rosa, chairperson of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee.
This time around, the ROTC program will not only provide a physical military education, but would also shape students’ personal discipline on human rights, environmental protection, disaster preparedness, and patriotism, Dela Rosa said.
This early, Dela Rosa assured the public that students who would undergo the ROTC program will not be subjected to abuse, since the bill will also signal the creation of a special council in every local government unit that would oversee the training.
Foreigners, physically challenged individuals and those with religious restrictions will not be exempted from the training, he said.
“Hindi sila exempted actually, there is no exemption. That’s the general rule. No exemption. But they will be offered alternative program of instruction, but still under ROTC program. Kagaya ng mga foreigners, mga foreigner na estudyante. You cannot subject them to love our country, to die for our country because they belong to another country. And yet, hindi pa rin sila exempted sa ROTC. They will undergo ROTC program with different program of instruction,” Dela Rosa said.
Part of the program also includes a P5 billion allotment to the Department of National Defense, which will be tasked to distribute free military uniform and combat boots to all ROTC trainees.
But all these brought questions to Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, especially the inclusion of foreign students in the program.
“Foreigner?… Mandatory? … I just wonder why foreigners are mandatorily required to under training for the 'security of the Philippines'… What is that 'more appropriate?' At the expense of the Pinoy taxpayer pa,” Pimentel stressed.
But for former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon who filed a similar bill years ago, Dela Rosa’s proposal is necessary, including the inclusion into the program of women and foreign students.
“I think a new curriculum for the implementation of a new law on the ROTC,” Biazon said.
A retired Armed Forces Chief, Biazon underlined every nation’s requirement to always have a readied force to defend its sovereignty and respond during disasters.
His only reservation is making the ROTC program mandatory.
“All state-owned colleges kailangan mandatory. Optional sa other schools… to me, since the taxpayers money is used to support scholars. National scholars,” Biazon said.
As he added: “Discriminatory yes. But remember, taxpayers are supporting the studies of our national scholars.”