Senate bill proposes 7 days paid Military Duty Leave for reservists

Senate bill proposes 7 days paid Military Duty Leave for reservists
This April 2019 photo shows Filipino-Italian actor Matteo Guidicelli taking an oath as a Philippine Army reservist.
Instagram / Matteo Guidicelli

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. has filed a bill proposing seven days of paid leave for military reservists to attend training among the benefits and rights for reservists as the government moves to make enrollment in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps mandatory for Filipino students again.

The proposed Military Duty Leave is "for the purposes of military training or military activities" and will be on top of service incentive and medical leaves. 

"The risk for reservists to lose their civilian careers when they render military service for our State, despite fighting for the country, is unforgiving," Revilla said in reference to reservists who were called to active duty during the 2017 Marawi Siege. 

"The siege created a problem making it difficult for the reservists to reintegrate back to their old jobs, since there is no current law covering that," he said.

Senate Bill No. 1556 also penalizes discrimination against reservists, including giving them lower compensation, declining employment on the basis of their being reservists, and laying them off or making them take early retirement for being part of the Reserve Force.

RELATED: Why ROTC is no longer mandatory

Under the bill, reservists who perform military service are entitled to their original positions when they return and deployment will not be considered a break in employment for retirement purposes or for the computation of work benefits.

"Reservists cannot be required to use earned or entitled vacation or service incentive leaves for leave of absence in connection with the performance of
military service in the Reserve Force," Revilla's bill also reads.

The bill defines miilitary service as any service rendered "upon orders of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] or call to active duty (CAD) to meet active duty training (ADT) requirements, or for any purpose that the AFP leadership may deem necessary in order to augment and support the Regular Force operation."

Employers whose reservist staff go on military duty may hire substitute employees for the duration of deployment but that employment will be deemed terminated when the reservist comes back.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. included mandatory ROTC in the priority legislation that he laid out at his State of the Nation Address in July "to motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations."

Groups opposed to mandatory ROTC — including Kabataan party-list, which has one seat at the House of Representatives — say the National Service Training Program, which includes voluntary military training National Service Training Program, can serve that purpose. 

ROTC was made voluntary in 2001 in response to the death of University of Santo Tomas cadet Mark Chua in 2001. Chua and another cadet exposed corruption in the school's ROTC program in The Varsitarian campus paper. He was kidnapped and his body was found floating in the Pasig River soon after.

Proponents of reviving mandatory ROTC like Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said ROTC will likely include female students when it is revived. He said this would promote gender equality.

RELATED: DepEd, DND begin exploratory talks on ROTC revival





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