House approves on third reading bill making NCSTP mandatory

House approves on third reading bill making NCSTP mandatory
“Congress recognizes the clamor for an increase in the minimum wage to help our fellow Filipinos cope with the rising cost of goods,” Rep. Fidel Nograles, chair of the House committee on labor and employment, said.
Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:11 p.m.) — The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the National Citizens Service Training Program (NCSTP) Act, which critics have called a rebranding of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

In a 276-4-1 vote, lawmakers voted to pass the NCSTP Act. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier certified the bill as urgent, along with the bill creating the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund.

This means that undergraduate students in both public and private higher educational institutions, technical-vocational education and training programs, and those taking TESDA courses will undergo a two-year NCSTP program. 

CHED and TESDA, with guidance from the Department of National Defense, will implement the program. Those who complete the program will be part of the National Service Reserve Corps (NSRC) and the AFP Reserve Force.

‘Certified as urgent’

Once both houses of Congress pass the bill, tertiary students in both public and private tertiary institutions taking up their undergraduate degree programs will undergo the mandatory NCSTP.

“In order to address the need to enhance the capacity of our citizens to mobilize and perform their constitutional duty to render personal military or civil service to the state in times of calamities and disasters, national or local emergencies, rebellion, invasion, or war,” Marcos said in his letter to cousin House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. 

“This shall be made possible by the establishment of a unified, comprehensive, and holistic national citizens service training and mobilization system.”

NCSTP will be replacing the current National Service Training Program (NSTP), while the ROTC will remain optional. 


Calls to make the ROTC program mandatory for students in a bid to supposedly make the youth more patriotic have received criticism, citing possible cases of abuse. 

In a statement explaining her vote against the NCSTP, Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party) warned that the program means “further campus militarization in schools that will put the studentry, the faculty, the education support personnel, and the whole education stakeholders at risk of imminent danger.”

Brosas criticized it as it “will not truly instill patriotism in youth and students,” with a program where the DND, Department of Interior and Loca Government, and the Philippine National Police will help in curating.

“If government is serious about instilling and uplifting the youth's sense of nationalism and duty to serve the community and country, we must promote teaching History and Filipino subjects to all ages,” Brosas said.

“We can also expand the National Service Training Program and include a community service program, health, and nutrition program, disaster preparedness program, and human rights education.”

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