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Agencies concerned urged to address 'ills of the past first' before ROTC is implemented.

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Before the implementation of the mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for Senior High School (SHS) students in both public and private schools nationwide, concerned agencies are urged to "address ills of the past first."

Lawyer and education advocate Joseph Noel Estrada underscored the need for agencies involved in the implementation of the mandatory ROTC to ensure that previous issues related to the program should be addressed first before it is revived.

Estrada, in a post on Facebook, reminded that the mandatory ROTC was replaced by the National Service Training Program (NSTP) "because of the abuses, corruption, cover-ups, and other irregularities" in the ROTC Program. "So instead of reviving the mandatory ROTC, strengthen it first to revive the people's trust in the program," he said. "Then maybe we can talk about mandatory ROTC," he added.

"If we revive the mandatory ROTC now without addressing the ills of the past, the noble intentions of our Senators to instill discipline and a sense of responsibility to our youth would be overshadowed by the very reasons why the Senate passed the NSTP Law that made ROTC optional: corruption, abuses, irregularities, hazing, and cover-ups," Estrada said.

To revive the public's trust on the program, Estrada stressed the need to "devise a grievance procedure in case of student complaints which provides for prompt action and clear accountabilities and liabilities." He added that the AFP personnel should be trained in handling child or student military training and to ensure that "preventive measures" are in place to ensure that previous cases of abuses will not happen again.

Estrada also raised other issues such as logistics and curriculum concerns. Based on the projected enrollment for SHS from DepEd, there are 3, 087, 646 incoming Grades 11 and 12 students this coming School Year (SY) 2019-2020. Given this, he said that there might be "no physical space" available for the drills and other related activities.

Including ROTC units in the curriculum, Estrada pointed out, might also be another issue. As it is, the SHS curriculum - which features job/work immersion, among others - is already "very congested." He also noted that there might not be enough AFP personnel to handle the ROTC program in every school.

Should the bill be passed into law, Estrada recommended the implementation of the mandatory ROTC in all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) as well as in all Local Colleges and Universities (LUCs). It will also be ideal to make ROTC mandatory through Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-approved curriculum for courses like Criminology and Maritime in all SUCS and private HEIs.

Estrada noted that the exemption given to Kabataan Barangay officials should be repealed and that the incentives and benefits for students, who will undergo ROTC, as provided in the current NSTP Law should be implemented.

Given all these concerns, Estrada maintained that there should be "no mandatory" ROTC either in SHS or college and it should just be maintained it as "one of the components under the NSTP Law in College."

Earlier, DepEd welcomed the revival of the mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 students. However, teachers group such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and youth groups like the League of Filipino Students (LFS) have expressed opposition to the mandatory ROTC noting that its revival is nothing but "another attack" on the Filipino youth.

The proposed implementation of the mandatory ROTC in SHS has passed the third and final reading at the House of Representatives. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate education sub-committee, also asked President Duterte to certify as urgent the bill making the ROTC program mandatory for SHS in an effort to ensure that it will be passed into law before Congress sessions end.

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Students taking ROTC / Credit: dwiz882 / Manila Bulletin
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:May 24, 2019
Words:629
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