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MANILA --- The New People's Army (NPA) infiltration and recruitment of students will be greatly reduced once mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is implemented, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Thursday.
"If all students will be made to undergo the ROTC program, it will definitely reduce the recruitment grounds of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) and other radical and extremist groups. The students will be enlightened about the bigger picture and the main purpose of these terrorist groups that arouse, organize, and mobilize innocent individuals who fall into their deceitful tactics," AFP Public Affairs Office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Detoyato added that the main purpose of House Bill 8961, which seeks to reinstate mandatory ROTC for all Grade 11 and 12 students, is to re-introduce patriotism, nation-building, respect for human rights, adherence to the Constitution, and character development to students.
He said the mandatory ROTC does not automatically mean that cadets will be deployed in the battlefield in case of any hostilities.
"To allay the fear of parents, ROTC cadets are not necessarily sent in the battlefield. They only undergo trainings inside campus and are taught about basic survival, relief operations, and nationalism. We have a regular force that conducts operations," Detoyato said.
He said the mandatory ROTC will always adhere to the rule of law.
"We will make sure that selected training officers are well-rounded and not abusive of power," Detoyato said.
House Bill 8961 seeks to amend for the purpose Republic Act 7077 or the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act.
Under the proposed measure, ROTC training would apply to “all students in Grades 11 and 12 in all senior high schools in public and private educational institutions.”
The bill also states that ROTC training shall be a requirement for graduation.
As provided, the following students may be exempted: those who are physically or psychologically unfit; those who have undergone or are undergoing similar military training; those who are chosen by their school to serve as the school’s varsity players in sports competition; and those who may be exempted from training for valid reasons as approved by the Department of National Defense, upon recommendation by an educational institution where the concerned student is enrolled.
The proposed measure also prohibits the use of ROTC training for “political” objective and for teaching and instilling a particular political ideology on students. It also bans hazing and other forms of physical or mental abuse.