By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture and the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education are expected to jointly deliberate on the 14 measures making the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for Grades 11 and 12.
The decision was arrived at during the House Committee on Basic Education’s first organizational meeting and initial deliberation on the mandatory ROTC bills.
The motion was made by Baguio Rep. Mark Go, chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, and seconded by ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro.
“If I may suggest, I move that we have joint discussion on these particular proposed bills and come up with a decision as a Committee on Basic Education and Committee on Higher and Technical Education,” Go said.
Go’s motion was unanimously approved by the House panel, chaired by Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo.
Before approving Go’s motion, PBA partylist Rep. Koko Nograles, one of the authors of the mandatory ROTC bill, called the attention of the panel to make a manifestation. But, since it was not an objection, the Romulo panel proceeded with the approval of Go’s proposed joint deliberation on the measures.
Nograles proposed that the measures be “re-referred” to the House Committee on National Defense, chaired by Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas.
“Instead of doing a joint committee, you might have wanted to reassign the ROTC [measures] to the Committee on National Defense because Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I am one of the authors, [the measure] is mainly a national defense matter that would involve the participation of our citizens. It is something that might be referred to the Committee on National Defense, but I will leave it to the wisdom of my colleagues,” he told the panel.
Go gave in to the Nograles’ proposal.
Romulo said they will discuss the Nograles’ proposal with the House Committee on Rules, chaired by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Tupas.
“We discuss it with the Committee on Rules, both chairpersons of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture and House Committee on Higher and Technical Education and Committee on National Defense,” he said.
In response, Nograles said: “It’s a mere suggestion so we can produce a well-deliberated bill.”
The Departments of Education, National Defense, and Social Welfare and Development rallied behind the passage of the measure.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones noted that the bill has been certified as urgent by President Duterte.
House leaders–Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu of Batangas and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, chairman of the House Committee on Energy ; Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino, chairman of the House Committee on Accounts; Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN partylist Rep. Michael Romero, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres, chairperson of the House Committee on Disaster Management; and Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, sought the approval of the bills.
The 14 bills call for the establishment of a mandatory two-year Basic ROTC program for students enrolled in Grade 11 and 12.
Under the measures, the Department of National Defense (DND) Department of Education (DepEd), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are mandated to design and formulate the Program of Institution (POI) on the ROTC program in Grades 11 and 12.
Graduates of two-year basic ROTC and who have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree shall be considered as first level service eligibles; and graduates with Advance ROTC and who finished a four-year course shall be considered as second level civil service eligibles, the bills provide.
The bills seek the creation of a Grievance Committee, a cluster of educational institutions that shall receive complaints and conduct motu proprio probe on any complaint or allegation of abuse, violence or corruption in any educational institution implementing the Basic ROTC program.