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

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — The mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program should be revived at the tertiary or college level instead of senior high school, experts said Thursday.

Guido Delgado, national commander of the U.P. Vanguard, the ROTC alumni association of the University of the Philippines, said reimposing the program for high school students will violate international laws on child protection.

"Whether we should be trained militarily to defend the country or not is beyond question because that is a constitutional requirement. Really the question is at what age should you be trained militarily and our opinion is it should be when you are going to finish it at the age of majority," Delgado told CNN Philippines 'On The Record.'

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

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

Meanwhile, Domingo Cayosa of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said reviving the ROTC for senior high students is against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Philippines is a signatory of.

"Kasama sa convention na 'yan na bawal ang mga menor de edad hindi lamang sa gyera kundi sa training sa military o war duties, so kung ang ia-adopt natin na version ng ROTC ay gagawin sa basic education eh alam naman natin na ang mga senior high talaga namang menor de edad 'yan," Cayosa said during the program.

"If there are other ways by which we can restore a better ROTC without violating our international commitments, then that should be the better approach, and that should be training the tertiary level who are ready of age.." he added.

Cayosa said the country lacks fund to implement the ROTC program to a huge number of students.

"We are a developing country, we don't have so much funds to do this. Why don't we focus on later age para magawa nating better than the ROTC in the past," he said.

"Why do we insist on training so many in high school, there are 11,000 high school [students] in this country, eh kokonti naman 'yung staff seargent nila para maging tactical officers? Instead of doing that... bakit hindi na lang sa college para 'yung skills nila hindi lamang military training kundi rescue operatipon, disaster eh mai-focus," he added.