House approves bill on NCST, ROTC on final reading

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

December 15, 2022, 8:06 pm

<p><em>(File photo) </em></p>

(File photo) 

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Thursday approved on third and final reading a measure that would establish a two-year mandatory National Citizens Service Training (NCST) program and an optional four-year Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.

With 276 affirmative votes, four negative votes, and one abstention, the chamber approved House Bill (HB) No. 6687, or the proposed National Service Training Program Act, which was certified as urgent by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Marcos certified as urgent the passage of the bill to address the need to enhance the capacity of Filipino citizens to mobilize and perform their constitutional duty to render military or civil service to the State in times of calamities and disasters, national or local emergencies, rebellion, invasion, or war.

"This shall be made possible by the establishment of a unified, comprehensive, and holistic national citizens service training and mobilization system," Marcos said.

The certification of urgency has allowed the Lower Chamber to pass the measure on second and third reading on the same day.

The bill seeks to institutionalize an NCST program to be implemented by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in all public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) and by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in all post-secondary technical-vocational institutions (TVIs), both in consultation with the Department of National Defense (DND).

The bill is authored by Speaker Martin Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Tingog Party-list Representatives Yedda Romualdez and Jude Acidre, among others.

Romualdez thanked his colleagues for the swift but exhaustive deliberations on the measure.

"The House of Representatives has been working really hard--day in and day out--to pass many important pieces of legislation that we all believe will contribute immensely to nation-building. And the NCSTP bill is one of them," he said.

"I congratulate all my colleagues in the lower chamber, even the ones who expressed opposition to the measure, for the resulting bill is one that has undergone rigorous scrutiny. And for that, we accomplish our role here in the Legislature with flying colors," he added.

House Committee on higher and technical education chair Mark Go, sponsor of the measure, said the Civic Welfare and Training Service (CWTS) and Literary Training Service (LTS) components of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Law shall be integrated in the NCST program.

The NCST program shall equip and organize the youth with necessary, essential, practical and pragmatic knowledge and skills for civic duty, emergency and disaster response and preparedness in the current frameworks of law enforcement, peace and order, territorial defense and national disaster risk reduction and management for mobilization for military and civil services that produces reservists for the National Service Reserve Corps and Armed Forces of the Philippines' Citizen Armed Force (AFP Reserve Force).

The bill also proposes to establish an optional ROTC program for higher education students designed to produce officers for the Citizen Armed Force and Regular Force of the AFP.

The ROTC curriculum shall be designed by the Department of National Defense and CHED and administered by the AFP to train volunteer tertiary education students to be officers of the Regular and Reserve Force of the AFP.

"It shall be designed in such a way that graduates of the four year ROTC Program shall be capable of immediate deployment as commissioned officers of the AFP immediately after graduation from the ROTC even as they continue with their baccalaureate degree program," Go said.

He said the ROTC program of instruction shall include advanced military subjects and courses, practical exercises and filed exercises necessary and appropriate for an entry level officer commission in the AFP.

"In keeping with the changing times it is incumbent upon us to promote the level of discipline, leadership, and patriotic character of every Filipino youth," he said.

He said the bill will promote, propagate, and protect the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being of the Filipino youth.

"With the passage of this bill, we endeavor to instill among the youth patriotism, love of country, moral and spiritual virtues, respect for human rights and adherence to the Constitution," he said. (PNA)