By Julie M. Aurelio, November 27 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer


Image Credit to Philippine Star

Contrary to President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier claim, Malacañang said an executive order might not be forthcoming to make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for Grades 11 and 12 students.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said a law passed by Congress, not an executive order, would be needed to revive the ROTC program and make it compulsory for senior high school students.

“No, the position of the President is Congress should pass a law,” Panelo said when asked when the executive order would be issued. “No, because it’s a law. It has to be amended.”

“And I think there may already be a House (of Representatives) backer,” he said.

Panelo made the remarks amid criticism of the President’s proposal to revive ROTC and his plan to issue an executive directive if Congress failed to amend existing laws.

Last week, the President repeatedly pushed for a compulsory ROTC program, which, he said, would inculcate patriotism among the youth.

“I likewise encourage Congress to enact a law that will require mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 so we can instill patriotism, love of country among our youth,” the President said before reservist soldiers in Tanza, Cavite province.

He added: “If it can be done through an executive order, I might be forced to if they do not act on it. I said this is a constitutional requirement that you must be prepared to defend your country.”

The President has been pushing for the revival of ROTC for senior high school students in public and private schools since last year.

To do so would mean amending Republic Act No. 7077, or the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act, as well as Republic Act No. 9163, or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act.

Enacted in 2002, RA 9163 made ROTC an optional and voluntary service for college students as one of the three components of the NSTP.

The two others were the Literacy Training Services and the Civil Welfare Training Service.

The mandatory ROTC program was abolished in 2001 in the wake of the public outrage over the death of University of Santo Tomas student Mark Welson Chua.

Chua was killed by cadet officers in UST after his exposé of corrupt practices in the university’s ROTC program.

The Kabataan party-list group in Metro Manila said ROTC traced its roots to a military culture that led to Chua’s death.

The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns on Sunday said restoring ROTC could encourage human rights violations, claiming that the program would teach students “brutality, fascism, corruption and impunity.”

Asked to comment on this criticism, Panelo said there was a lot to be learned from the program.