SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 8961 or the proposed “Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Act,” which seeks to institutionalize, develop, train, organize and administer basic ROTC in Grades 11 and 12 in all public and private educational institutions.
The measure received 167 affirmative votes, four negative votes, and no abstention from the House Members.
HB 8961, principally authored by Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu (2nd District, Batangas), provides that the government recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building, and shall promote civic consciousness among them. It shall further inculcate in the youth patriotism, nationalism, and encourage involvement in public and civic affairs.
“The school is the most powerful institution when it comes to shaping the hearts and minds of the youth. It is essential, therefore, to use the school as an invaluable instrument—as it already is—to ensure that Filipino students are geared to become disciplined, active, responsive, participative, and patriotic citizens and able defenders of our country,” said Abu.
The bill provides that a mandatory two-year Basic ROTC program shall be established for all students enrolled in Grades 11 and 12, which shall form part of the basic curricula for the Senior High School Education and, thus, qualified for graduation.
This shall be in pursuance of the provisions of the National Defense Act and the 1987 Constitution, which intends to produce well-trained and prepared reservists for military and civic service.
In addition, the ROTC program shall also aim to instill patriotism, love of country, moral and spiritual virtues, respect for human rights and adherence to the Constitution.
It shall include the following program of instruction: a) enhancing the students consciousness in the ethics of service, patriotism and nationalism, developing personal discipline and leadership, and encouraging creative thinking for scientific and technological development; b) basic military training to motivate, train, organize and utilize for national defense preparedness and civil-military operations; and c) civil training for the students to be active participants and volunteers in the development and improvement of health, education, ecology and environmental protection, disaster risk reduction and management, and human and civil rights awareness and law enforcement.
The measure mandates the Department of National Defense (DND), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), in consultation with other relevant government agencies and private stakeholders, to design and formulate the program.
Among those exempted from the ROTC program shall be: (1) those who are physically and psychologically unfit; 2) those who have undergone or undergoing similar military training; and (3) the school’s varsity players.
Graduates of the ROTC program shall be eligible for commissionship/lateral entry and enlistment in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
The bill also stipulates that those undergoing Basic ROTC and those accepted in the ROTC Advance Course shall be provided with free hospitalization in any government hospital in case of accident or injury during the training.
They shall further be given access and privileges with any AFP Commissary and Post Exchange Stores nationwide.
HB 8961 is also authored by Reps. Raul Tupas (5th District, Iloilo), Micaela Violago (2nd District, Nueva Ecija), and Ramon Durano IV (5th District, Cebu)./ Molie Gonzales, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines