Senators urged to support students choosing volunteer work over ROTC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) – Student groups on Monday urged senators to support learners who want to train for disaster response or do volunteer work instead of forcing them to undergo military training.

In a Senate hearing, student groups opposed the proposal to make the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) a mandatory course for college students.

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines chairperson Ken Paolo Gilo said the government should give students the freedom to choose how to express their nationalism.

“Walang nag-iisang anyo ng pagmamahal, walang nag-iisang anyo ng nasyonalismo. Hayaan po natin na mahalin ng kabataan ang inang bayan sa kung paano nila gustong ipakita ito,” he said.

[Translation: Love does not come in one form, nationalism does not come in one form. Let the youth love our country in the way they want to.]

“Ang gustong mag-military reserve, suportahan natin sila. Pero suportahan din natin ‘yung gustong mag-volunteer work, disaster response,” he added.

[Translation: We should support those who want to undergo military training, but we should also support those who want to volunteer work and disaster response.]

Under the National Service Training Program Act of 2001, there are three NSTP programs: ROTC, Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS), and Literary Training Service (LTS).

Under CWTS, students are taught to do community service. The LTS, on the other hand, allows students to teach out-of-school youth to read, write, and count.

Based on the data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), only 20% of college students choose ROTC while 70% select CWTS. The 10% choose the LTS.

Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. claimed the NSTP program has been ineffective in developing the youth’s sense of nationalism.

“Napakatagal na natin na 21 years na ‘yung NSTP natin, hindi natin nakita ‘yung development sa youth ngayon na tinatawag nating sense of nationalism, self-service at ‘yung tinatawag nating commitment to serve our country,” he said.

[Translation: We have been implementing the NSTP for 21 years, which is a very long time. We don’t see the development of nationalism, self-service, and commitment to serve our country in our youth.]

CHED Chairman Popoy de Vera agreed with Galvez, pointing out that the NSTP has problems to be fixed.

According to the DND’s initial estimate, full implementation of mandatory ROTC may need ₱20 billion in funding.

CNN Philippines’ correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.