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CHED presents 'consensus bill' covering ROTC for tertiary, higher educ students

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and several government agencies have crafted a "consensus bill" which will institutionalize a two-year mandatory National Service Training Program (NSTP) and four-year optional Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) curriculum for higher education students.

CHED Director Spocky Farolan presented the proposal at a Senate haring on the bills seeking to make ROTC mandatory.

Farolan said this "consensus bill" would more or less capture the intent of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. when he mentioned in his State of the Nation Address reforming the NSTP law and reviving the ROTC program.

This curriculum will focus on disaster risk reduction and management and civic duty-related concerns, he added.

"The bill will be institutionalizing, if passed, a two-year mandatory national citizens' service training program in tertiary education," he said.

Farolan said tertiary education includes baccalaureate degrees and other post-secondary courses offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which extend up to two years at least.

Students taking TESDA training  for less than two years, like National Certificate II courses, will undergo special citizens service seminars and programs, he added.

The CHED official said the NSTP curriculum would be developed by a technical panel which will be composed of different agencies and representatives from relevant national organizations.

The panel will periodically update the program and will craft the curriculum that will focus on "practical and truly useful" competencies and skills in civic duty, individual survival and safety skills, mass/community emergency and disaster response and management and citizen soldier training.

A four-year optional ROTC program was likewise proposed under the said "consensus bill."

"The four-year optional ROTC program, it would really be geared toward producing officers for the regular and reserved force," Farolan said.

"Of course, for the conversion of the officers into a regular force, for a regular commission, there will be other requirements as the DND...prescribed but the concept would be having a four-year ROTC course," he added.

Once they graduate from the two-year program, both male and female will be issued two serial numbers, Farolan said.

"It will be a dual registration system. They would be registered under the National Service Reserve Corps which is an existing aggrupation right now under the [Office of the Civil Defense] which would be in charge of their mobilization for the non-combat and non-military activities but they will issued serial numbers for the AFP citizens armed force because they will also be deemed as members of the citizen armed force or what we refer also as AFP reserve force and they will be given military serial numbers for military or combat purposes deployment," he said.

A national citizens service training monitoring and oversight committee will be formed. It will be chaired by CHED with the Department of National Defense as its vice chairperson.

The committee will be composed of representatives from TESDA, National Youth Commission, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and two representatives from relevant national organizations.

This will "ensure that all complaints are also attended to and there will be no abuses that inspections are conducted, surprise inspections especially, and all other possible abuses are immediately investigated with the power to call on agencies to compel agencies to conduct investigation necessary to ensure that none of the evils that we saw in the previous programs are experienced or at least they are prevented or immediately addressed," Farolan said. —KG, GMA Integrated News