By Vanne Terrazola
Senator Ronald dela Rosa on Saturday believes that the revival of the mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in schools could help stop the recruitment of minors by communist groups.
Dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said this as he claimed that patriotism and discipline among the youth “declined” since the military training became an optional program for students.
He claimed that this triggered the membership of more teenagers in militant organizations.
“Dahil simulang nawala ‘yong ROTC, naobserbahan natin na ang inclination ng kabataan, hindi naman lahat, is papunta sa kaliwa. Nawala na ‘yong patriotism sa mga kabataan. Nandyan na pasigaw-sigaw na sa kalsada. Nawawalan na ng disiplina,” Dela Rosa said in an interview over radio DWIZ.
(Since the mandatory ROTC was no longer imposed, we observed the inclination of youth, not all of them of course, went towards the leftist movement. Patriotism has declined. There they are now shouting in streets. They are not anymore disciplined.)
Dela Rosa said reimposing the ROTC will be “substantial” in preventing students from joining leftist organizations and becoming fighters of armed communist groups.
Last Wednesday, the neophyte senator led the Senate public order committee’s hearing on the cases of missing teenagers who were allegedly recruited by leftist groups that have supposed links to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army while in school.
In his first public hearing, Dela Rosa invited five parents who blamed militant groups for changing their children’s behavior and allegedly influencing them not to go home. The parents said they lost contact with their teenage kids since they became active members of the groups.
Dela Rosa said the committee will resume its hearing on Wednesday, August 14, and after which will come up with its recommendations on the matter.
The ex-police chief earlier filed a bill pushing to reinstate a two-year mandatory basic ROTC for senior high school students in private and public schools nationwide.
In his bill, those who fail or refuse to undergo the mandatory ROTC shall not be qualified for graduation.
Males aged between 18 to 25 who fail to undergo the mandatory ROTC will also be required to take the Compulsory Military Training under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
President Duterte in his State of the Nation Address last July 25 appealed to lawmakers to pass the bill that would revive the mandatory ROTC for students in grades 11 and 12.
But some senators raised reservations on the measure, specifically its imposition on senior high school students. Youth groups also feared that the mandatory ROTC will pave the way for abuse and violence.
The AFP, earlier, said that the ROTC program does not make a trainee an “ipso facto soldier.”