Duterte certifies bill to restore mandatory ROTC as urgent

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, June 3, certified as urgent the bill seeking the restoration of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program for Grade 11 and 12 students.

In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Duterte said that a law is required to restore basic military and leadership training for the Filipino youth “to invigorate their sense of nationalism and patriotism necessary in defending the State and to further promote their role in nation-building.”

Senate Bill 2232 otherwise known as the “Citizen Armed Force or Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act” was passed on final reading in the House of Representatives. It is still on the period of interpellation on the upper house.

The move made by Duterte allows the said bill to acquire a second and final reading approval on the same day, thus expediting the process of its implementation. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian sponsored it, while senators Richard Gordon and Manny Pacquiao are co-sponsors.

The mandatory ROTC program was abolished after former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the National Service Training Program (NSTP) law in 2002. Under the law, ROTC is just one of three NSTP components students can choose from, along with Civic Welfare Training Service and the Literacy Training Service.

The death of University of Santo Tomas cadet Mark Welson Chua in 2001 at the hands of his officers and fellow UST cadets sparked a clamor for the scrapping of mandatory ROTC. Chua was killed for exposing irregularities in the university’s ROTC program. 

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