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Mandatory ROTC bill sponsored in Senate plenary

The Senate bill making the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program mandatory for students in higher education institutions (HEIs) and technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) is now up for plenary debates.

On Wednesday, Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa sponsored Senate Bill 2034 in substitution of eight proposed measures on mandatory ROTC, one of the Marcos administration's legislative priorities.

Under the bill, the mandatory basic ROTC program will cover all students enrolled in not less than two-year undergraduate degree, diploma, or certificate programs in HEIs and TVIs. The program will be undertaken for four semesters.

Students who fail to undergo the ROTC program will not be qualified for graduation.

Educational institutions that fail to institute and implement basic ROTC will face disciplinary and administrative sanctions from the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

A specialized program will be crafted for students who are classified as persons with disabilities, those whose religious beliefs prohibit the use of firearms in rendering service to the country, and those who have been convicted by final judgment of crimes involving moral turpitude.

The Basic ROTC Program Curriculum will be crafted by the Department of National Defense, CHED, and TESDA in consultation with other relevant government agencies and private stakeholders, including associations of schools.

The program of instruction shall be guided by the following objectives:

-Provide basic military and police training for students to motivate, train, organize, and utilize for national defense preparedness or civil military operations and law enforcement

-Enhance the students’ consciousness in ethics of service, patriotism, and nationalism, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, and develop personal discipline and leadership.

-Reinforce students the values of civic mindedness, volunteerism, and genuine service to others

-Provide the students with practical and applicable knowledge and skills that are necessary, essential, and ideal for survival and provide service in times of emergencies and disasters

The bill also provides for an Advance ROTC program, but participation will be voluntary. Incentives will be given to students who join this program.

Section 14 of the bill provides safeguards to prevent hazing, corruption, and other forms of abuse.

An ROTC grievance board will be established in each unit to receive complaints or to conduct investigations motu proprio on any allegation of abuse, violence, or corruption.

It will be composed of the school president or his/her representative; a representative from the CHED regional office; a representative from the TESDA regional office; a commandant from the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and a representative from the provincial or city local government unit.

A National Grievance and Monitoring Committee will also be created, which will be composed of the Secretary of National Defense or his or her permanent authorized representative, who will act as chairperson; the CHED chairperson; the TESDA director general; the Secretary of Justice; and the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government.  — VBL, GMA Integrated News