House hopes to pass ROTC bill by Feb.6

By Jose Cielito Reganit

January 31, 2019, 5:58 pm

MANILA -- A ranking leader at the House of Representatives said Thursday they hope to approve the bill reviving mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) training for senior high school students on third and final reading by February 6 before Congress goes on recess for the national campaign for the mid-term elections.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said the House leadership under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been pushing for the immediate passage of consolidated House Bill (HB) No. 8961 since it was classified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We hope to pass the measure next week before we go on break,” Abu said in a text message to reporters.

“The approval of the substitute bill was prioritized as the mandatory ROTC bill was classified as a priority bill of President Duterte,” he added.

The urgency of passing the bill was apparent Wednesday when plenary deliberations on HB 9861 started just hours after the proposed measure was approved by the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture headed by Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI.

The consolidated bill was mostly based on HB 5113 that was filed by Abu.

The panel’s approval came more than two months after Duterte urged Congress to expedite the restoration of mandatory ROTC for senior high school students “to instill patriotism and love of country among the youth.”

With majority of lawmakers supporting the bill, Abu said he expects HB 8961 to be approved on third and final reading before Congress adjourns on February 6.

Under the proposed measure, a mandatory basic ROTC program would apply to “all students in grades 11 and 12 in all senior high schools in public and private educational institutions.”

The bill also states that ROTC training shall be a requirement for graduation.

While Basic ROTC is a requirement for graduation, the bill leaves Advance ROTC courses in the hands of the students.

Students undergoing basic and advance ROTC shall be provided with free hospitalization in any government hospital in case of accident or injury during the training.

Meanwhile, the following students may be exempted from the program: those who are physically or psychologically unfit; those who have undergone or are undergoing similar military training; those who are chosen by their school to serve as the school’s varsity players in sports competition; and those who may be exempted from training for valid reasons as approved by the Department of National Defense, upon recommendation by an educational institution where the concerned student is enrolled.

The proposed measure also provides the incentives for graduates of the ROTC program.

As mandated by the measure, graduates of Basic ROTC shall be eligible for commissionship/lateral entry and enlistment in the AFP, Philippine National Police, Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Graduates of basic ROTC who have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree shall be considered first level Civil Service eligible.

On the other hand, graduates of advance ROTC who have finished a four-year baccalaureate degree shall be considered second level Civil Service eligible. (PNA)