MANILA Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday lauded lawmakers for approving on third and final reading House Bill 8961, which makes the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory for senior high school students.
"The DND welcomes the approval of House Bill 8961 at the House of Representatives on the third and final reading today, 20 May 2019. The reinstatement of mandatory ROTC in Grades 11 and 12 will help instill love of country, good citizenship, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law," he said in a message to reporters.
The House of Representatives voted 167-4-0 to approve House Bill 8961 on third and final reading.
"We thank our legislators for making the youth their priority. Now more than ever, we need the strength of an empowered Filipino youth with leadership, sense of duty and service, discipline, and leadership to sustain our nation's growth and momentum," Lorenzana stressed.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said they strongly welcome this development.
"The AFP is a consistent advocate of a military training program that shall form part of the curriculum because that will help nurture nationalism and patriotism to the youth in schools," he added.
Also, ROTC enrollment among Grade 11 and 12 students envisions to instill discipline and sense of purpose; respect for the laws and the authorities; and obedience to rules and regulations.
"Today's young generation needs to be exposed to the rudiments of basic soldiery no matter brief to help develop and hone their leadership potentials," Arevalo emphasized.
Arevalo added that this move will protect the youth from getting brainwashed by communist rebels.
"They need to be exposed to the rudiments of basic soldiery no matter brief (four semesters) to help develop and hone their leadership potentials and character. Not to the teachings of local communists and their minions who are wolves in sheep's clothing They enter school premises or are already inside school grounds in search for fertile minds. Idealist young men and women whom they can plant the seeds of discontent and hatred and later on exploited and manipulated to lead NPA's to fill the dearth of their cadres � to the detriment and suffering of parents who bear all the sacrifices and hardships in sending their children to school in the hope of a bright future," he added.
Warning to parents, students
The military spokesperson, meanwhile, warned the public not to be deceived by groups linked to the communist movement.
"Parents and students, therefore, should not listen to the noise that Partylist groups like Kabataan, Gabriella, et al. that Jose Maria Sison acknowledged to be CPP-NPA allies. Such links were confirmed by surrenderers who were former NPA members and Cadres,"
Arevalo also stressed that the opposition of these groups to the measure did not come as a surprise.
"What will we expect from this bloc but oppose the ROTC Program because they stand to lose their pool of potential cadre recruits? Remember those students who were among NPA who died in armed confrontations in Batangas and Laguna? Both turned out to be from the University of the Philippines, in Manila and Los BaAos, respectively," he added.
He also assured that the AFP will "assign as trainers officers and enlisted personnel with no criminal, civil, or administrative case involving corruption or other malpractices so that they will provide good role models to the students".
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 for in the bill, students 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 are exempted and others 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. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency