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Majority of Filipinos back ROTC revival

CABUYAO, LAGUNA, Philippines – Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets of Pamantasan ng Cabuyao on duty during the university’s 14th commencement exercises at its main campus in this town, 25 April 2018. A recent Pulse Asia study showed that 80% of Filipinos agree to the implementation of the ROTC either in senior high, in college, or in both. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

A Pulse Asia survey shows a majority of Filipinos support the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian revealed.

“According to the Pulse Asia’s latest Ulat ng Bayan Survey conducted on December 14-21 last year, 1,440 of 1,800 respondents or 80 percent agree to the implementation of the ROTC either in senior high, in college, or in both. Meanwhile, 270 respondents or 15 percent do not want the program implemented, while the rest have no opinion on the issue,” Gatchalian said.

The same survey showed that 34 percent want ROTC implemented in both senior high school and college, 28 percent want the program to be implemented only in college, while 18 percent want ROTC only in senior high school, according to the lawmaker.

The respondents were asked, “There are proposals to implement ROTC to all students in Senior High School or Grades 11 to 12 and in college. The ROTC or Reserved Officers’ Training Corps is a program which aims to teach the youth about discipline and love of country by military training. Which of the following do you favor more regarding this issue?”

Gatchalian said he will be holding a public hearing on February 20 to consult stakeholders on their position on the issue.

“Mukhang malinaw naman na karamihan ng mga Pilipino ay pabor sa pagbabalik ng ROTC.  Makakatulong ito sa character-building at pagdevelop ng disiplina sa ating mga kabataan,” he said.

Among the guests invited to the hearing are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal and other AFP officials, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Commission on Higher Education chair Prospero de Vera, and University of the Philippines Vanguard Executive Director Robert Coscolluela. Representatives from various groups opposing the return of ROTC will also be invited.

Gatchalian was previously designated by the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture as chairperson of the Senate Subcommittee on ROTC, which is tasked to study the possible re-institutionalization of the program.

The senator said he supports the return of ROTC as it was a “powerful means of instilling patriotism and discipline in the Filipino youth.”

“By instilling in our students a sense of patriotism and discipline, we are also unlocking their potential to become future leaders and training them to become productive members of society,” he said.

In 2016, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 200 seeking to re-institutionalize ROTC for students in all colleges, universities, and technical or vocational schools. He also filed House Bill No. 2338 seeking the same in 2013 while he was still representative of the first district of Valenzuela City.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, recently approved on second reading a bill requiring ROTC training for senior high school students.