President Rodrigo Duterte wants to reinstate mandatory ROTC training for Grade 11 and 12 students.
Faceboo/Army Reserve Command
Why ROTC is no longer mandatory
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - November 26, 2018 - 4:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte, once again, has urged the Congress to enact a law that would revive the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps or he would issue an executive order that would make it so.

A bill reinstituting the mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 students in public and private schools nationwide is pending before the House of Representatives.

Duterte said he wanted to require mandatory ROTC for senior high school students to "instill patriotism" and "love of country among our youth."

What Duterte didn't mention in his call to make ROTC mandatory is why the program was made optional in 2001.

On Jan. 23, 2002, Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001 was signed into, allowing college students to choose between ROTC, Literacy Training Service and Civil Welfare Training Service as part of their required National Service Training Program.

Twitter user Emmanuel Cocina pointed out that corruption was rampant when ROTC was compulsory.

"Back when it was mandatory, students paid their officers so that they won't undergo the program but still get a passing grade," Cocina said.

Death of UST cadet Mark Chua

Concina recalled that a University of Santo Tomas student and cadet exposed this practice. His body was later found floating in the Pasig River.

Mark Chua, along with fellow cadet Romulo Yumul, disclosed the corruption in the university's ROTC program in The Varsitarian's Feb. 21, 2001 issue.

According to a March 18, 2018 report from The Varsitarian, the story titled "Struggle Against the System" revealed the formal complaint of Chua and Yumul against Maj. Demy Tejares, the commandant of the UST ROTC unit, and other Department of Military Science and Tactics officials.

Chua went missing after the story was published and his father Welson received a call claiming that the UST student was kidnapped.

On March 18, 2001, Chua's body was found floating in the Pasig River. His body was wrapped in a carpet, his face covered with masking tape and his hands were tied.

In 2004, a Manila court found ROTC cadet Arnufo Aparri Jr. guilty of killing Chua. He was sentenced to death and was ordered to pay the family a 50,000-peso indemnity. However, Aparri's sentenced was downgraded to life imprisonment without parole when the death penalty was abolished in 2006.

Another accused, Eduardo Tabrilla, pleaded guilty to homicide in 2006 while the other two involved — Paul Tan and Michael Manangbao — are still at large, according to The Varsitarian.

Road to ROTC reform

Chua's death led to a series of protests by student activist groups, who planned barricades and launched a signature drive to abolish the ROTC program.

Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who had committed to working for the abolition of mandatory ROTC, said in 2001 that while the program made sense in the Philippines before World War II, the situation had changed since then.

He said that with the absence of external threats to national defense and security, a focus on military training was no longer necessary.

He also pointed out that the Armed Forces of the Philippines only recruited around 10 percent of the 400,000 cadets who graduated from the program yearly, indicating, he said, that most students were not interested in a career in the military.

"I believe students should instead have the option to take up community service or related subjects that will enhance their performance of civic duties," he said then.

He also urged the Defense department to stop all irregularities and malpractice in the ROTC program, noting that students had been able to bypass the requirement of attending training through deals with officers.

Angelo Reyes, Defense secretary at the time, had acknowledged the need for an update to the ROTC law but said the Armed Forces of the Philippines still needs to have a reserve force.

"I am entertaining the idea of taking in only 25,000 cadets every year whom we can give proper training, allowance and other benefits. With this, we'll have a smaller but higher quality reserve force," he said then.

Sen. Renato Cayetano, who was the bill's principal sponsor at the Senate, said when it was passed into law, said that it was important for the Filipino youth to "be motivated, trained, organized and mobilized in military training, literacy and civic welfare." 

"Finally, college students are now given a choice on how to participate in nation-building through civic consciousness aside from the ROTC which was imposed 76 years ago," he said at the time.

The law made the NSTP mandatory for all college students while the mandatory ROTC program it replaced only covered males.

EXPLAINER MARK CHUA RODRIGO DUTERTE ROTC
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 9, 2019 - 12:11pm

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte wants the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps revived to instill discipline on the youth. 

Last week, Duterte, who admitted that he did not finish the course that used to be a requirement at that time, has again urged Congress to enact a law that would make ROTC mandatory.

 

 

A bill that will make ROTC compulsory for Grades 11 and 12 students in public and private schools is already pending at the House of Representatives and is just awaiting approval from lawmakers. 

Last year, the president revealed that as an undergraduate he presented the X-ray results of a man with tuberculosis so he wouldn't have to undergo the ROTC. 

He said he didn't want to take the course as he does not like the idea of getting shouted at.

July 9, 2019 - 12:11pm

Youth activist group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan slams Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa for allegedly mocking Filipinos calling on the government to protect the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by saying they do not even want to enroll in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

"Unfortunately, it is common for uncritical Filipinos to parrot these same fallacious, uninformed opinions. Not surprisingly, mandatory ROTC defenders jump to the conclusion that one is automatically seeking war if one is against the unlawful intrusion into the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone of the Chinese government and military. This is the vulgar 'basis' that allows them to mock those who are against ROTC, spouting brainless and unnecessary remarks on social media such as "Gusto niyo giyerahin ang China, pero ayaw niyo sa ROTC.", etc," SPARK says in a press release.

"Filipinos are still divided on their opinions about ROTC, but this military program for students, disguised as a means 'to develop discipline and nationalism,' appears to be no more than a mere tool for oppression and to train more puppies to grow into obedient lapdogs to the reactionary government," the group also says.

June 3, 2019 - 7:55pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent the bill seeking to restore the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

In a letter sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Duterte says restoring basic military and leadership trainings for the youth would reinvigorate their sense of nationalism.

These qualities are necessary in defending the state and in further promoting the youth's vital role in nation building, he adds.

Once a bill is certified urgent by the president, Congress can pass it on second and final reading on the same day. 

The House of Representatives passed on final reading the bill reviving mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 students last month. The Senate's version of the measure is still in the period of interpellation. 

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 the three NSTP components students can choose from along with Civic Welfare Training Service, and the Literacy Training Service. 

— The STAR/Alexis Romero 

May 30, 2019 - 10:16am

Child rights group Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns urges senators to block the bill reviving the mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps for senior high school students.

"The core of ROTC is militarism. It develops vulnerable young minds submissive to authorities. It discourages being critical which is a complete opposite of patriotism which shall be fueled by young people's love for their fellow citizens, community, and country," says Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi's secretary general.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill that would make the ROTC mandatory for Grade 11 and 12 students last May 20. The bill was approved by a vote of 167 in favor, four against, and no abstentions.

May 20, 2019 - 5:59pm

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that will make the Reserve Officers' Training Corps mandatory for Grade 11 and 12 students.

The bill was approved by a vote of 167 in favor, four against, and no abstentions.

A counterpart bill at the Senate is still pending at the committee level.

Enrollment in ROTC was made optional in 2001 in response to the death of University of Santo Tomas cadet Mark Chua, who exposed corruption in the program and whose body was later found floating in the Pasig River.

In 2004, a Manila court found ROTC cadet Arnufo Aparri Jr. guilty of killing Chua. He was sentenced to death and was ordered to pay the family a 50,000-peso indemnity. However, Aparri's sentenced was downgraded to life imprisonment without parole when the death penalty was abolished in 2006.

Another accused, Eduardo Tabrilla, pleaded guilty to homicide in 2006 while the other two involved — Paul Tan and Michael Manangbao — are still at large, according to The Varsitarian.

The few lawmakers opposed to making ROTC mandatory again have said that the program exposes students to the risk of hazing and abuse by cadet officers. They also said there are other ways to instill nationalism in the youth.

They have proposed improving the National Service Training Program, which includes the ROTC program, instead.

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