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Review of NSTP law pushed

FORT BONIFACIO, TAGUIG CITY, Philippines – Senator Win Gatchalian graces the 36th National Reservists Week at the national headquarters of the Philippine Army, 22 Sept. 2018 file. Gatchalian, a reservist with a rank of lieutenant colonel, is calling for a comprehensive review of the NSTP Law to measure its effectiveness and introduce appropriate amendments with the goal of strengthening the country’s Reserve Force. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Amid waning Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) graduates volunteering for the Ready Reserve, Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a resolution to conduct an inquiry into the implementation of the National Service Training Program (NSTP), particularly its ROTC component.

In filing Proposed Senate Resolution No. 97, Gatchalian noted that a “comprehensive review of the NSTP law, particularly its ROTC component is necessary to measure its effectiveness and introduce appropriate legislative measures or amendments in the existing law with the goal of strengthening the country’s Reserve Force.”

The lawmaker said that the implementation of NSTP Law in 2002 led to the “drastic reduction” of enrollment in the ROTC program.

According to Gatchalian, from 314,225 in School Year (SY) 2000-2001, the number of enrollees dropped to 170,071 in SY 2002-2003, and further down to 106,892 in SY 2004-2005, “effectively creating serious repercussions on the AFP Reserve Force.”

“The state of the ROTC program today shows that it is challenged in many fronts – primarily issues not on waning enrollment but in a lack of ROTC graduates volunteering for the Ready Reserve, issues on leadership and diverse policies on designation of commandants in the ROTC units, the lack of manpower, logistics and funding, the lack of adequate training facilities,” he stressed.

Gatchalian added there were also “issues on the Program of Instruction, which is not congruent with the warfighting and nation-building mission of the Reserve Force to which the ROTC plays a vital role in producing the reservists it needs, as well as not fitting it to the generation of students today.”

He argued that “while the existing NSTP classes stir up the civic consciousness of our students, these do not fully attain the objective of developing military and defense preparedness among our youth especially in light of non-traditional threats brought about by natural disasters and climate change, as well as threats against our national security.”

Gatchalian recently refiled Senate Bill No, 177, which seeks to establish a mandatory two-year basic ROTC program for all senior high school students in private and public schools. Under his bill, the ROTC program would put a premium on disaster preparedness and capacity-building for risk-related situations.