Marcos: ROTC Should Be A Choice, Not An Order

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The total absence of community service subjects in the curriculum of the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and its very name alone make it an “overtly military” program, Senator Imee R. Marcos said Friday.

In a heated exchange during the Senate basic education committee hearing yesterday, Marcos pushed for the “Citizen Services Program” she proposed in Senate Bill 413, insisting that ROTC should be a college option rather than a high school requirement for graduation.

“You can’t legislate nationalism or force kids to be soldiers,” Marcos said.

Military officials pushing to revive the ROTC program in high school were paying mere “lip service” to the program’s stated civilian goals of encouraging civic consciousness among the youth and voluntary service to the community, Marcos added.

Marcos also cited the absence of a follow-up retraining program similar to that in South Korea or Singapore that would upgrade the skills of ROTC cadets after completing their basic education.

The senator also said that the military needed to create a database that can efficiently keep track of former ROTC cadets who may need to be drafted for military service.

Marcos clarified that she was not against ROTC because she prescribed it as an option for college students in Senate Bill 413, and also offered incentives of free health and life insurance to all ROTC student participants plus stipends for ROTC officers.

The country will also be able to comply with international agreements if ROTC is scrapped as a high school requirement for graduation, Marcos also said.