THE House of Representatives committee on basic education and culture on Wednesday, January 30, approved a substitute bill reviving the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

This development comes months after President Rodrigo Duterte urged the Congress to expedite the passage of the measure reviving ROTC to instill patriotism among the youth.

Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago assailed the move as she claimed that the education committee railroaded the passage of the measure.

The committee approved the measure within five minutes after its hearing started.

"We condemn the House committee on basic education and culture for railroading the subsitute bill on Mandatory ROTC," Elago said, adding that the committee has allowed "a program that has been a hotbed of abuse and corruption in schools."

Elago, further expressing her opposition to the measure, claimed that students will only be used by the military in their crackdown against student activists once the bill is enacted.

"We do not subscribe to the proponents of Mandatory ROTC in SHS that this is about promotion of nationalism and discipline in schools. This is about suppression of dissent and imposing the Duterte regime's tyrannical rule in schools. It has already militarized the bureaucracy, now it's after our schools" added Elago.

According to the bill, “ROTC training is aimed to instill patriotism, love of country, moral and spiritual virtues respect to human rights and adherence to the Constitution.”

The committee approved the substitute bill which provides that the mandatory two-year basic ROTC program shall apply to Grade 11 and Grade 12 students in public and private schools.

Those who will not undergo the mandatory ROTC training will not graduate, according to the measure.

Those who are physically or psychologically unfit, those who are undergoing a similar military training and varsity players may be exempted from the coverage of the mandatory ROTC.

Authors of the bill include Batangas 2nd District Rep. Reneo Abu, Cebu 5th District Rep. Ramon Durano, Nueva Ecija 2nd District Rep. Micaela Violago and Iloilo 5th District Rep. Raul Tupas.

The still unnumbered bill, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7077 or the Citizen Armed Force or Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act, substituted House Bills 5113, 5907 and 8651. (SunStar Philippines)