THERE have been series of reactions from different social media platforms and talks from different corners and informal conversations on the proposed mandatory Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC) for Senior High School students which was already passed in the third and final reading in the House of Representatives. It was certified as urgent by no less than President Rodrigo R. Duterte. As the institution which will implement the said inclusion to the K to 12 Curriculum, the executive committee of DepEd after series of consultations came out with this official statement which I will publish here in toto:
Statement on House’s passage of the proposed mandatory ROTC in SHS:
The Department of Education (DepEd) welcomes the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC) as its proposed implementation in Senior High School (SHS) passed the third and final reading at the House of Representatives.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s preference and instruction to revive the mandatory ROTC, especially his reiteration during the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Palarong Pambansa, set the direction for DepEd to start coordinating with the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on its implementation.
The series of consultations and discussions resulted in the: signing of a DepEd-DND/AFP Memorandum of Agreement; creation of a joint technical working group and a joint secretariat; conceptualization of Advance Citizens Training Program (ACTP) pending the passage of the law reviving mandatory ROTC; drafting of curriculum guide and modules; drafting of ACTP implementing policies and guidelines; listing of pilot schools; training of potential pilot program implementors; and development of common positions at congressional hearings.
To help ensure the protection and safety of learners, the Department advocates the strict adherence to the following laws and policies, which should be reiterated explicitly in the proposed law: Learners and Schools as Zones of Peace (no introduction of firearms in school premises), Child Protection Policy, Management of Children-at-Risk and Children in Conflict with the Law, Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination, Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying, Prohibition of Fraternities and Sororities in Elementary and Secondary Schools, Convention on the Rights of the Child and Its Optional Protocol.
Aside from strict adherence to the aforementioned laws and policies, DepEd also proposes with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian the inclusion of the following provisions in the proposed law: Establishment of grievance committees from districts to the national level, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee and mandatory evaluation and review, Imposition of maximum penalty for offenses under existing laws committed by implementors, ROTC instructors’ academy, Pilot program implementation to limited number of schools in the first two years of implementation, Authorization to use existing budget for pilot implementation prior to inclusion in the annual General Appropriations Act, Allocation of special annual budget to cover implementation, such as but not limited to training of instructors; uniforms for instructors and students; replica firearms; manuals and textbooks; office facilities and supplies; classroom and ground maintenance; instructors’ remuneration, etc. and Joint DepEd-DND/AFP supervision and administration of the mandatory ROTC Program.
In all undertakings, DepEd emphasizes on the inclusion of the following priority concerns in the ROTC curriculum and implementation: Patriotism, nationalism, and core values, National heroes and history of the Filipino nation, Filipino citizenship, civic duty, and discipline, Respect for human and civil rights, rule of law, and law enforcement, Critical thinking, leadership, and scientific and technological development, Disaster preparedness and response, rescue and first aid, and recovery and rehabilitation, Ecology and environment protection and Anti-drug abuse and anti-poverty.
This Corner hopes that all of these important considerations will be discussed and finalized before the final implementation of the law so that the transition will not be a burden to the stakeholders to be involved in the said change.