A veteran lawmaker has vowed to introduce “a stricter set of disciplinary mechanisms” in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or ROTC, which he hoped to prevent death of cadets similar to what happened to Mark Welson Chua.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian made the promise to ROTC officials from the University of Santo Tomas on April 12 as he seeks more support for his bid to revive the mandatory two-year military training program in all colleges and universities nationwide.
Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, also lamented that Chua’s death overshadowed the honorable intentions and goals of the ROTC program.
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“Aware ako na may maaring mangabuso sa kapangyarihan kaya naman sa pagtutulak ko ng mandatory ROTC sa Kongreso plano kong mag-introduce ng mga disciplinary mechanism sa mga officers at trainees natin,“ Gatchalian said.
“Masusugpo ang pang-aabuso sa ROTC at manunumbalik ang tiwala sa training program na may layuning hubugin ang kabataan at palakasin ang ating pwersa ng ating militar,“ he added.
Gatchalian is the primary author of House Bill No. 2338, which seeks to mandate all male tertiary and vocational school students to undergo military training while female students will take civil training in basic rescue missions and health services.
The lawmaker earlier urged the Department of National Defense or DND, the Commission on Higher Education or CHED, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA to design an ROTC program with safety features to protect students from abuse and excessive exercises, including hazing.
In 2001, the death of Mark Welson Chua created a strong public clamor against the military training program and had led to the passage of Republic Act No. 9163 or National Service Training Program or NSTP Act, which made the ROTC program optional to all college students.
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Records show that the number of ROTC enrollees dropped by more than half to around 950,000 in 2012 from over two million in 2001, when the NSTP Act was implemented.
Gatchalian also noted the decrease of ROTC enrollees contributed to the reduction of army reservists, who can be tapped to bolster the country’s military strength and help the government in times of natural disaster. (Timothy Alcantara)