Poll of Catholic school students shows most reject mandatory ROTC

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Poll of Catholic school students shows most reject mandatory ROTC
Students of Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet observe health protocols as they attend their Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) training on Friday (September 30, 2022).
STAR / Andy Zapata Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — Most students in private Catholic schools in the country are opposed to the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, according to an online survey by the country’s largest association of private Catholic schools.

Results of a poll conducted by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) from April 3 to 24 among students of its member schools show that 53% said they disagreed with bringing back mandatory ROTC, while 28% said they agreed. 

Meanwhile, around 19% of the survey respondents said they cannot say if they agree or disagree with the proposed revival of mandatory ROTC.

Of those who responded, 30% or 6,166 out of 20,461 were of college age. The survey mostly garnered responses from senior high school students (70%). 

According to its Facebook page, CEAP said the purpose of the survey was to get students’ “collective opinion” on the proposed mandatory ROTC bill in Congress and its “possible influence on you, your education, and your future.”  

The Senate defense, higher education and finance panels have greenlighted a bill seeking to make the ROTC program compulsory again for college students even as it has been widely opposed by youth groups that are concerned over past abuses by cadets of the program.

RELATED: Taytay, Rizal reso stresses freedom of choice, 'informed decision' on joining ROTC

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. included mandatory ROTC for senior high school students in his priority legislation during his first State of the Nation Address. The Senate measure, which has been sponsored in the plenary, is targeted at college students.

CEAP has more than 15,000 member schools across 17 regions.

Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Partylist) said the CEAP survey was a welcome development amid efforts in Congress to push for the controversial measure. 

“We laud CEAP for taking the initiative in asking their students, the majority stakeholder standing to bear the greatest impact from mandatory ROTC — something that promoters of the said policy failed to do in the last 10 months of Congress sessions,” Manuel said. 

“If they are not rattled by this survey, we implore fellow legislators in the Senate to try talking to your children. Ask them, do they agree with this policy? Ask yourselves, would you want them to undergo this program without consent?” Manuel added.

The mandatory ROTC program was scrapped in 2001 following the brutal killing of UST student Mark Welson Chua, who exposed allegations of corruption within his ROTC unit and filed a complaint against his superiors.

Then-Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who lobbied to make ROTC no longer required for students, said in 2001 that the program no longer made sense post-World War II due to the absence of any external threat to national defense and security.

READ: 35% support for mandatory ROTC much lower if SHS students included in survey — group

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