Mandatory ROTC bill filed by Arnolfo Teves files in Congress

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Soldiers participate in a capability demonstration during the 102nd anniversary of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters inside the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, metro Manila on March 15, 2014. (Photo: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)
Soldiers participate in a capability demonstration during the 102nd anniversary of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters inside the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, metro Manila on March 15, 2014. (Photo: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

A bill to make the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory for senior high school students has been filed in the House of Representatives by Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.

House Bill (HB) No. 4500, also known as the ROTC Act of 2022, is mandating the institutionalization of basic ROTC courses in Grades 11 and 12 in all educational institutions throughout the country.

According to the bill’s explanatory note, "The State must once again make mandatory the enrolment of all students in Grades 11 and 12 in ROTC for our country to have sufficient reserve officers to call to render military service when warranted by national circumstance, whether as in response to any national security threat or national emergency."

It also seeks to "enhance the capacity of the State to produce the needed manpower and to extend its human resources in times of war, calamities, disasters, and national or local emergencies."

Teves said that under HB 4500, ROTC would be compulsory for all male students enrolled in public and private schools, and it would be a requisite for graduation in all baccalaureate degrees and two-year technical or vocational courses.

"It is the policy of the State to call upon its citizens to defend the nation and in fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required to render personal, military or civil service," added Teves in the explanatory note.

The Department of National Defense (DND) will spearhead the proscription of the training program for ROTC, coordinating with universities and colleges on conducting military training in their respective schools.

Graduates of the ROTC and advanced ROTC program may be eligible for lateral entry and enlistment in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Coast Guard, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

An independent ROTC Grievance and Ethics Board will also be established to receive and oversee complaints from students. It will comprise a representative from the DND, the Department of Education (DepEd), a school representative, and a representative from a Parents and Teachers Association and other similar groups.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), said that an ROTC program must be passed into law, a measure that is also supported by DepEd and its head, Vice President Sara Duterte.

The ROTC was abolished in 2002 after corruption and controversies hounded the program.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.