Nearly 8 out of 10 adult Filipinos, 78%, are in favor of restoring the mandatory Reserved Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at the college level, according to the results of a Pulse Asia survey.
The survey, conducted on 1,200 respondents nationwide from March 15 to 19, 2023, and commissioned by the Office of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, also revealed that the highest percentage of those in favor of mandatory ROTC was recorded in Mindanao at 92%, followed by 80% in the Visayas, 77% in the National Capital Region (NCR), and 72% in Balance Luzon.
Only 13% of the respondents disagreed with mandatory ROTC for college, while 8% cannot say whether they agree or disagree.
The remaining .3%, however, said they don’t have enough knowledge to give an opinion on the issue.
The poll also showed that the top reason for agreeing to a mandatory ROTC policy in college level is the belief that it will make young people learn discipline and responsibility (71%), followed by belief that it will prepare students to defend the country (60%), and teach them leadership skills (59%).
The results also showed that 52% of those in favor of the ROTC believe it will teach the youth the value of teamwork, while 40% said it will improve the youth's physical fitness.
Meanwhile, 35% of those in favor of mandatory ROTC also said it will make young people become patriotic.
"Malinaw ang boses ng ating mga kababayan sa pagsuporta sa pagbabalik ng ROTC sa kolehiyo," Gatchalian, co-author and co-sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2034 or the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Act, said in a statement on Tuesday.
(Our people’s support for the restoration of mandatory ROTC at the college level is clear.)
"Kaya naman patuloy nating isusulong ang ating panukalang muling magkaroon ng ROTC sa kolehiyo hanggang sa maisabatas ito. Sa pamamagitan ng ROTC, maituturo natin sa mga kabataan ang disiplina, pagmamahal sa bayan, at kahandaang tumulong lalo nsa panahon ng mga sakuna," he added.
(That is why we will keep pushing for this bill's passage into law because this will teach our youth discipline, love of country and readiness to help amid disasters.)
The ROTC Act seeks to institutionalize the mandatory Basic ROTC Program in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Technical Vocational Institutions (TVIs) for all students enrolled in not less than two-year undergraduate degree, diploma, or certificate programs.
The mandatory ROTC program in college was abolished in 2001 due to the killing of UST cadet Mark Welson Chua after revealing alleged corruption in the program. It has since been replaced with the National Service Training Program where students can choose one of three options: ROTC, Literacy Training Service and Civic Welfare Training Service.
On the other hand, 75% of the 13% who are opposed to mandatory ROTC said their opposition is due to possible increase in cases of abuse, harassment, and hazing (75%).
Majority of the opposition also believe that mandatory ROTC waste the time of youth which should be spent on studying (56%), that it will only become an instrument of power for leaders and officers (44%), that it will just be a extra burden on students (43%), it will cause mental health problems (40%) and corruption in schools (17%).
Gatchalian, however, insisted that the proposed measure has safeguards such as the Grievance Board that will be established in every ROTC unit to receive complaints or motu proprio conduct investigations on any complaint or allegation of abuse, violence, or corruption.
The Pulse Asia poll allows for a 95% level of confidence with a margin of error of plus/minus 3% at the national level and plus/minus 6% at the geographic area level.
For his part, Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said he believes that SB 2034 has a "high chance" of passing in the Senate, citing "public support" as indicated by the survey.
“Malaki ang tyansa. Kung titingnan mo ang survey….halos 80% ng Pilipino ay gustong ibalik ang ROTC. Mayroon tayong support sa taong bayan,” said dela Rosa in an interview with Super Radyo dzBB.
Dela reiterated that reinstating mandatory ROTC would prepare the country against attacks on its sovereignty and would instill discipline in the Filipino youth.
He sponsored the proposed measure in the plenary last month. —with Sundy Locus/KBK/VBL, GMA Integrated News