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Mandatory citizen military training pushed

June 20, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 245 views

A House leader is appealing to the Senate to approve a bill passed by the House of Representatives calling for a mandatory citizen service training for college students, with an optional ROTC or reserve officer training course.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, made the appeal in reaction to a reported survey by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) showing that 53 percent of senior high school student-respondents opposed the proposed revival of a school-based military training.

Rodriguez said the proposal of the Lower Chamber, contained in House Bill No. 6687, is for the establishment of a “national citizens service training program (NCSTP)” that includes community service-oriented activities like relief and rescue, and mobilization for disasters and calamities.

“It is not focused on military enlistment preparation. That is just part of what we envision would be a holistic citizen service training, which would encourage the participation of our youth in civic and public affairs,” he said.

HB 6687 is a consolidation of several related measures, including Rodriguez’s Bill No. 6078. It is principally authored by Speaker Martin Romualdez.

The bill was approved by the congressmen with an overwhelming vote of 278.

The Mindanao lawmaker said the proposed revival of ROTC ‘answers the country’s need for a citizen force that is ready to be mobilized for all emergencies.

“In a time when multitude of national and local emergencies and contingents confront our people, whether in the areas of external and territorial defense, internal security and peace and order, and disaster risk reduction and management, we need an updated and well-thought citizen service law,” he said.

To assure that the bill will not violate any international convention and law such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the bill does not cover high school students but only all students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs in all public and private Higher Education Institutions and at least 2 year TVET programs in all TVIs in the country.

Under HB 6687, an inter-agency technical panel led by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shall formulate the NCSTP curriculum.

The CHED and the Department of National Defense (DND) shall design an “optional ROTC” program that includes a five-month officer leadership course.

The CHED and DND, together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall establish a separate four-year ROTC baccalaureate degree program.