Youth party-list slams alleged forced implementation of ROTC in Manila school

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) – The Kabataan Party-list on Tuesday slammed the alleged forced implementation of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program in a school in Manila.

According to the group, freshmen students at Philippine Christian University (PCU) were allegedly left for several weeks without an instructor for National Service Training Program (NSTP). Two weeks ago, the university's NSTP department instructors, without clear policy, said students would undergo ROTC instead.

The party-list also said last Saturday an entire class at PCU was directed to join the ROTC after their NSTP-CWTS instructor excluded them from the roll call.

“One of the ROTC officers, furthermore, threatened that students will be punished if they disobey,” Kabataan Party-list said in a statement.

“This violates the students' democratic rights and welfare as well as the spirit of the NSTP law, which supposedly gives students freedom of choice,” it added. “Nationalism and discipline cannot be force fed much less cultivated through blind and blanket imposition.”

The party-list also reported that PCU students who are firm in their decision not to undergo ROTC walked out of the session.

CNN Philippines has reached out to the PCU for comment.

In July 2022, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa said he would refile his bill seeking to make the ROTC mandatory, saying it is necessary as "the youth’s sense of pride, nationalism, and patriotism have changed."

He also cited the "impending threat" from China due to the West Philippine Sea dispute.

The bill seeks to implement the ROTC program in Grades 11 and 12 in public and private schools. It also seeks to implement advanced ROTC in the first two years of college.

Last month, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez said the mandatory ROTC can be fully implemented in five years through a "phased approach.”

READ: Defense chief: Proposed mandatory ROTC can be fully implemented in 5 years