Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said reinstating the mandatory reservist training program for Grades 11 and 12 will benefit the country and its citizens.
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Delfin Lorenzana lauds House support for mandatory ROTC
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - February 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday hailed the House of Representatives for passing the Mandatory Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) bill on second reading.

He said reinstating the mandatory reservist training program for Grades 11 and 12 will benefit the country and its citizens.

“As the voice of the Filipino people, our representatives’ votes truly reflect the collective sentiments of our people, especially the Filipino youth who will greatly benefit from the ROTC program which aims to instill patriotism, love of country, moral and spiritual values, respect for human rights and adherence to the Constitution,” Lorenzana said.

He thanked the lawmakers for their strong support and appealed to both chambers of Congress to fast-track the approval of the bill.

“This (is a) key defense advocacy of developing the Filipino youth as our nation’s future defenders, patriots and leaders,” Lorenzana said.

“This legislation will also strengthen our Reserve Force which is an important component of our national defense and security,” he said. 

However, a group promoting children’s rights said the proposal to revive and implement the ROTC among high-school students is a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Salinlahi secretary-general Eule Rico Bonganay said the UN convention, to which the Philippines is a signatory, has a protocol against the involvement of children in armed conflict. 

“We are deeply concerned that children aged 14 to 17 years old will be trained by military elements who are notorious for their brutality and violations of children’s rights,” Bonganay said.

“It is also known that many of the ROTC trainees undergo hazing and experience not just physical violence but also sexual asssaults from their upperclassmen, officers and also from members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” she said.

Bonganay reminded the government of the mammoth youth mobilizations in the early 2000 over the killing of Mark Welson Chua which resulted in the abolishment of the mandatory ROTC. 

Salinlahi emphasized that no child should be obliged to join any institution like the ROTC. “Their democratic right to choose must always be protected and ensured by the state. Forcing children to undergo mandatory ROTC is a clear admission that the government fails to gain the trust of the students in the military, given its rampant human rights abuses,” Bonganay added. – With Rhodina Villanueva

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