'Libro hindi bala': Teachers group leader slams passage of ROTC bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — The government should focus more on addressing the needs of public schools across the country instead of reviving the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio said Thursday.

"Unahin munang i-fulfill ng Philippine government 'yung kakulangan sa classrooms, sa libro na matagal na nating pinoproblema. These are the needs, the real needs of our students na hindi ma-attend attend dahil sa kakulangan ng pondo na ibinibigay sa education sector," Basilio told CNN Philippines' On The Record.

[Translation: The Philippine government should focus more on addressing the lack of classrooms and books which has been our perennial problem. These are the real needs of our students that had never been addressed due to lack of funds given to the education sector.]

"Bakit na naman tayo magke-create ng gagastusan na naman samantalang 'yung basic na karapatan ng mamamayan sa edukasyon ay hindi pa natin natutupad," he added.

[Translation: Why are we going to spend on something new when the basic right on education has not been given to all Filipinos yet.]

READ: Mandatory ROTC should be reimposed at college level, not senior high – experts

The House of Representatives on Monday passed on third and final reading House Bill 8961, mandating the revival of basic ROTC program as a prerequisite to graduation of grades 11 and 12 students in public and private schools around the country. Grades 11 and 12 students are mostly 16 or 17 years old.

The bill has gained support from the Defense department and even Education department. Counterpart bills in the Senate are still pending at the committee level.

Basilio said existing national service programs for students should just be strengthened instead.

"Maraming paraan ng pagtuturo ng pagmamahal sa bayan at isa po dyan ay ang pagtitibay ng pag-aaral ng kasaysayan, pag-araal ng ating lenggwahe. Mas mainam yun kesa turuan natin 'yung mga kabatan sa ilalim ng tirik na araw at kung ano pa mang pamamaraan. Hindi lamang sa putok ng pulbura minamahal ang ating bayan," he said.

[Translation: There are many other ways of teaching love for the country such as strengthening the curriculum on Philippines history and language. These are better than teaching students under the scorching heat of the sun. The love for the country can't be shown by firing a gun.]

"Ang kailangan natin libro hindi bala," he said.

[Translation: What we need are books, not bullets.]