A PARTY-LIST group urged President Benigno "Noynoy Aquino III to break his silence over the proposal to revive the mandatory Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

Kabataan Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino said the country's youth, especially those enrolled in colleges and universities are waiting to hear Aquino's side on the controversial issue.

"We urge President Aquino to take a stand in this issue. It's been a week since this was brought up due to House Bill 737 filed by Representative Eduardo Gullas," he noted.

"We hope the President breaks his silence. Instead of focusing on ROTC, we must strengthen public service-oriented subjects such as Literacy Training Service and Community Welfare Training Service," he added.

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Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that the revival of the mandatory ROTC will aid in bringing back discipline as well as instilling the love of country among the Filipinos.

Gazmin also said that students undergoing ROTC will be hold a significant number of manpower for disaster preparedness operations.

On the other hand, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Eduardo Batac said the revival will answer the AFP's problem on the manpower deficit aside from their "meager budget".

But Palatino countered what is needed is not a battalion of military reservists to respond to any calamities just like during last year's typhoons Öndoy and Pepeng.

"We have established our stand against ROTC several times due to the widespread corruption and abuse. ROTC will give license to men in uniform to exercise their supremacy inside the four corners of the schools," he added.

On the other hand, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) launched Friday a petition signing campaign and commemorated Mark Chua, a UST student who allegedly died of hazing.

Einstein Recedes, NUSP national president, said the petition signing campaign aims to gather support from students, parents and teachers against any move by the AFP and DND to revive mandatory ROTC in colleges and universities.

Even the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) has weighed in with its opposition to the proposal to revive the mandatory military training.

"Ang position ng Ched sa usaping yan ay wag gawing mandatory dapat may choices ang ating mga estudyante kung ang gusto nila ay military training o ang National Service Training Program," said Ched Executive Director Julito Vitriolo said.

He added that the current set-up under the NSTP provides students with much more "varied exposure" compared to the "limited" content if only military training would be included in the mandatory ROTC training.

"Dito kasi sa NSTP may iba-ibang component ito kagaya ng civic welfare, environmental awareness and protection at literacy program at iba so naii-expose ang mga estudyante sa iba pang kasanayan."

Vitriolo said that if the plan to make mandatory training is to have a reserve force able of augmenting the regular military, especially in times of calamities, then the present crop of students that undergo NSTP is more capable than ROTC trained. (AH/Sunnex)