Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a bill that seeks to reinstitutionalize the two-year mandatory Basic Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program and the two-year voluntary Advance ROTC Program at the tertiary level.
Senate Bill No. 1551 or the Mandatory Basic Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Act covers all students enrolled in any undergraduate degree, diploma, or certificate program in all public and private universities, colleges, vocational schools, and other tertiary educational institutions.
Under the Basic ROTC program, students at the tertiary level shall undergo basic military and leadership training. This is to enhance the capacity of the nation and expand its human resource in times of war, calamities and disasters, and national or local emergencies. Aside from military training, the Basic ROTC program will cover civic training and enhanced preparedness during actual disaster response operations.
Gatchalian pointed out that restoring Basic ROTC at the tertiary level instead of Senior High School is more viable. He pointed out that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in learning loss, learning recovery should be the priority of the basic education sector. Since the K to 12 curriculum is being streamlined, adding the Basic ROTC Program to Senior High School will be counterproductive, said Gatchalian, who withdrew his earlier bill entitled Senior High School Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Act (Senate Bill No. 387).
Gatchalian also pointed to the cost implication of implementing Basic ROTC in Senior High School. The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of National Defense (DND) estimated that implementing basic ROTC on a national scale would cost P9.3 billion, an undesirable cost since the country is still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Implementing the Basic ROTC program in the tertiary level will still capture a substantial number of Senior High School graduates who shall eventually be enlisted in the Reserve Force, Gatchalian said. He pointed out that in the past four years, on average, about 81% of Senior High School graduates proceeded to enroll in college.
“Isinusulong natin ang pagbabalik ng Basic ROTC upang ituro sa ating mga kabataan ang disiplina at pagmamahal sa ating bansa, lalo na’t sila ang mamumuno sa bansa balang araw,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.