Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian today called on concerned government agencies to review its disaster preparedness program in the wake of the devastating 7.8-magnitude quake that shook Nepal resulting to the death of over 7,000 people.
Gatchalian, a member of the Philippine Red Cross-Board of Governors, said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC should spearhead nationwide drills in schools and work places to ensure that the citizenry will know what to do when a strong earthquake hits the country.
Filipino seismologists have previously warned about a likely earthquake that can be triggered by movement of the Marikina Valley Fault Line that runs through Metro Manila from east to west, from San Mateo, Rizal all the way to Calamba, Laguna.
And as the Philippines joins Nepal in solidarity over the tragedy, Gatchalian reiterated his position for the revival of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or ROTC in higher education institutions to prepare the country for disasters such as earthquakes.
“Now is the opportune time to again implement the mandatory ROTC among college students to ensure we have enough boots on the ground in times of disasters,” said Gatchalian, a majority member of the House committee on higher and technical education.
Gatchalian filed House Bill No. 2338, which seeks to re-institutionalize the mandatory ROTC, saying that military and civic training will prepare the youth for civic duty, especially when catastrophe strikes.
According to Gatchalian’s ROTC bill, all male tertiary and vocational school students will undergo military training while females will take civic training on basic rescue missions and delivery of health services.
“In its Declaration of Principles and State Policies, our Constitution has espoused that the government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions required by law, to render personal military or civil service,” said Gatchalian.
“And in Republic Act No. 7077, everyone is called upon to maximize the opportunity in safeguarding the security of our State. Laws are replete with policies on service to countrymen, and these callings must now be installed in our consciousness to be active in our civic duty, to prepare ourselves in case of a projected or actual need,” the Valenzuela City lawmaker added.
The ROTC training will also be made a requirement for graduation under Gatchalian’s proposed measure.
As a preventive measure, Gatchalian 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 engineer the ROTC course of instruction with consideration to the well-being of the students who will undergo the training.
H.B. 2338 is under deliberation by the House committee on higher and technical education and is set to undergo a public hearing.