SEN. Francis Chiz Escudero expressed opposition to the reinstatement of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program to college students, saying it is not enough to equip or train Filipinos to defend the country.
During Wednesday’s plenary session, Escudero, who interpellated Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Senate Bill No. 2034, cast doubt that bringing back the ROTC and replacing the National Service Training Program (NSTP) will equip the Filipinos to defend and fight for the country.
“We were taught to march, we were taught to stand, we were taught to carry a gun, I didn’t feel like I was equipped enough to defend my country,” Escudero said.
Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who defended the bill reinstating the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), dismissed the idea that individuals who oppose the reinstatement of the program demonstrate a lesser love for their country.
Escudero asked why those who are unwilling to take up arms are sometimes perceived as lacking love for their country.
In his response, Dela Rosa said he does not agree with such a notion but he regards individuals who are ready to sacrifice or defend their country through combat as more patriotic than those who remain “sitting on the sidelines.”
The senator said a formal study based on facts is necessary to convince the public that there is a need to scrap the NSTP, which was created under Republic Act 9613, and make ROTC a mandatory requirement for all students.
During yesterday’s interpellation at the plenary session, Sen. Dela Rosa, the bill’s sponsor, said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has determined that the NSTP Law has failed, a conclusion that he strongly agrees with.
Escudero, however, pointed out that if the bill is to be passed into law, this should be backed up by formal studies and not just some informal statements from pro-ROTC advocates.
“Can the gentleman furnish me a copy of a study, not merely the position of the (CHED) Chair but a study that says NSTP actually failed,” added Escudero, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education.
“I have yet to see a study based on facts and evidence that indeed it is a failure, and indeed ROTC is better because you have to remember that ROTC is still a part of the NSTP at present.”
Under the NSTP Program, both male and female college students are required to undergo one of three program components for an academic period of two semesters.
The students, however, are free to choose which particular program to take. The three NSTP Program components are the Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS), Literacy Training Service (LTS) and the ROTC.
Escudero likewise questioned the claim of Dela Rosa that the mandatory ROTC will effectively instill patriotism as well as equip the Filipino youth to defend and fight for the country if necessary.
SB 2034 mandates that all students enrolled in not less than two-year undergraduate degree, diploma or certificate programs in Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) and Technical Vocational Institutions (TVIs) will undertake the ROTC for four semesters.
Aside from the CHED, SB 2034 proposes that the Basic ROTC Program Curriculum will be drafted by the DND and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), in consultation with other relevant government agencies and private stakeholders, including associations of schools.