MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the youth could serve the Philippines in various other ways apart from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday pushed to make mandatory.
In his first State of the Nation Address, Marcos said the military training program should be a requirement for Grades 11 and 12 students to mobilize them "for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations."
"Ito'y isang programa mula sa nakaraan na napatunayan hindi iyon ang optimal kasi iyong mga kabataan natin, may iba't ibang paraan para mahalin at magsilbi kay inang bayan," Hontiveros said of mandatory ROTC.
(This is a program that was proven to be non-optimal because our youth have various other ways to love and serve the country.)
“Iyong mga ibang kabataang Filipino gustong maglingkod kay inang bayan sa iba pang mga paraan, ‘wag natin silang pipilitin,” the senator added in a chance interview after the SONA.
(We should not force young Filipinos who want to serve the nation in other ways.)
ROTC became optional in higher education in 2002, following the death of Mark Chua, a University of Santo Tomas student who was allegedly slain by officers for exposing fund mismanagement.
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte earlier said she hoped legislative priorities in the 19th Congress would include the reinstatement of mandatory ROTC.
Among the other topics that Marcos tackled in his SONA, Hontiveros commended the mention of renewable energy and programs for vulnerable sectors like solo parents.
But Hontiveros said she would have wanted to hear more about anti-corruption efforts.
“Yun yung isang concern moving forward, yung big ticket programs may potential pa rin sa korupsyon na dapat bantayan,” she said.
(One concern moving forward is that big ticket program still have a potential for corruption that should be monitored.)