Mandatory ROTC violates int’l law — Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros

Mandatory ROTC violates int’l law — Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros

The Reserved Officers Training Course’s (ROTC) revival is at full speed ahead.
The House of Representatives has already approved on third and final reading House Bill No.8961, their version of making the ROTC mandatory for senior high school students.

As for the Senate, Senate Bill No. 2232, which seeks to require senior high school students undergo the ROTC program before graduation.The Bill has already been endorsed for the plenary approval in the Senate.

Opposition Senator Rissa Hontiveros (photo credit to Inquirer)

Opposition and left-leaning senator Risa Hontiveros is opposing such move to make ROTC mandatory for senior high school students. She reasons out that this is in direct violation of an international law -
 the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a protocol to which the Philippines is a party of.

The opposition senator added the protocol mandates that underaged persons — those under 18 years old — are not “compulsorily recruited into the armed forces.”

“Most students enrolled in Grades 11 and 12 are 16 to 17 year-olds. They are minors,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Since the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is also composed of a ‘citizens’ armed force which shall undergo military training,’ we would be violating our international commitment if we compulsorily recruit into the reserved forces those who are not of the age of majority,” she added.
Hontiveros reasons out that the program should “remain optional” and that students “must be given options of how to fulfill their socio-civic responsibilities to the country.”

“I am curious as to why we look to mandatory militarism as a way to promote nationalism, whilst at the same time removing National Language and Panitikan as mandatory courses in schools?,” the opposition senator said.

“Mandatory militaristic courses don’t have the monopoly of inculcating love of country. Love of country should be an expression of a deeper understanding of social responsibility,” Hontiveros said.

She also raised concerned over the funding and logistical requirements in making the ROTC program mandatory, noting the country currently has 11,000 high schools.

“How do we overcome the financial burden of institutionalizing ROTC in all these high schools? How can we assure the public of proper implementation when we can barely sustain our K to 12 program?” Hontiveros said.

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