Alternative measure to mandatory ROTC filed

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the establishment of a comprehensive and holistic policy that would strengthen the sense of patriotism and nationalism among Filipino students. 

The senator filed Senate Bill No. 925 or the ‘Youth Patriotism and Bayanihan Act,’ which is an alternative to the proposal to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students.  

At the Senate Committee on Basic Education’s public hearing on Thursday (August 22), Cayetano stressed that instilling love for country among young Filipinos should start as early as their formative years. 

“Do the core values of nationalism and patriotism only begin at senior high? That’s the question I pose. This is not just a concept that should be focused on senior high,” she said.

“I just want to put my point out there, that there are different ways to develop nationalism and there are different components [that should be considered],” she added.

Earlier this week, the senator filed SB 925, which seeks to institutionalize a two-tiered program to strengthen the values of discipline, patriotism, and nationalism of students from Grades 1 to 12. 

The first tier is the introduction of a Fundamental Program in the curricula of Grades 1 to 12 in all public and private educational institutions in the country. The components of which shall include Physical Fitness, Arts and Cultural Heritage, Community Outreach, Basic Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Basic Security. 

The second tier is the establishment of a Specialized Program for Senior High School students in public and private educational institutions. This seeks to provide advanced and dedicated training for the development of the students’ skills on security, survival, and public service.

The Specialized Program shall have the following components: Internal Security and Peace and Order, Dedicated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Advanced Security, and Career Development.

Cayetano said her measure particularly promotes the importance of “soft security,”  which pertains to the ability of citizens to respond to threats to the country’s sustainability through the efficient management of resources and delivery of services.

In her bill, the senator distinguished ‘soft’ from ‘hard’ security, which refers to the country’s ability to respond to security threats through the use of military force.

“That’s why my bill includes more components [other than military-based training] because I’d like to think that there is not just one track… We want to be sure that the programs [we will establish] would be suited to the skills that we want our youth to develop,” she said. 

Furthermore, Cayetano said if the purpose of the mandatory ROTC is to train the youth in helping protect the country from external threats, there are many other ways to do so.

“If we are preparing for external invasions… should not the preparation be in terms of our students being the best in engineering, psychology, sociology, history, medical care, and the like?” she asked.

“My point is, we need to strategize where our human resources are needed. And it is essential for the Filipino youth to contribute to the preservation and sustainability of our country’s available resources,” she concluded.  #

Senator Pia Cayetano: “If we are preparing for external invasions, should not the preparation be in terms of our students being the best in engineering, psychology, sociology, history, medical care, and the like?”

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