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Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte voiced his determination to make the Reserved Officers Training Corps program mandatory for students several times. Even as a presidential candidate, he has been supportive of making ROTC mandatory even saying it would increase Philippine forces to repel Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea. Two months into the presidency, the proposal to revive a mandatory ROTC program for college students was discussed in a Cabinet meeting.

Currently, the Department of Education supports the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program for Senior High School students in public and private schools. During the 17th congress, the House of Representatives approved the bill on the third and final reading while the senate has set to discuss it before the session ended.

Government officials said the program would (1) provide the Philippines a source of defense and (2) would help instill discipline and patriotism among students. They propose to strengthen the mandatory ROTC program to “instill love of country and good citizenship.”

Salinlahi stands firm on its position that making the ROTC mandatory for senior high school students is a clear violation of the country’s commitments to the international community in upholding and promoting the rights and welfare of children.

VIOLATION OF CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

Aside from the fact that it runs contrary to the provisions of United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict, the proposed bills disregard the rights of children under the RA 7610 that prohibits the presence of soldiers in schools and the use/recruitment of children in armed hostilities.


CULTURE OF VIOLENCE

Can a 16 and 17 year old boy withstand the physical abuses?

ROTC saw numerous cases violence against students. Hazing and verbal attacks which cause physical, emotional  and psychological trauma are happening under ROTC trainings. ROTC desensitize children to abuse and eventually normalize violence in the school context.

ABUSE ON WOMEN

Can a 16 and 17 year old boy withstand the physical abuses?

ROTC saw numerous cases violence against students. Hazing and verbal attacks which cause physical, emotional  and psychological trauma are happening under ROTC trainings. It desensitizes children to abuse and eventually normalize violence in the school context.

ADDED BURDEN

Family bonding time? Time for recreational activities with friends? NO MORE TIME!

As an additional subject/course, ROTC will consume additional time and will necessitate extra efforts on the part of the students.

Low income families will also be burdened with additional expenses including the transportation, food, uniforms and other needs of their children who will undergo the ROTC training.

FAKE NATIONALISM

Nationalism essentially means advancing Filipino culture by studying Philippine history, defending sovereignty and protecting patrimony.

However, with the submissive posture of the Philippine government towards the US and China, it has no moral ascendancy to teach youth about nationalism and patriotism. Instead of forcing students to undergo ROTC, the government should focus more on programs that will instill the spirit of volunteerism among our children and youth.