DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Various youth groups here have denounced the draft substitute bill in Congress which aims to create the Citizen Service Training Course (CSTC) or what they say a “facelift” of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
“Trainees will be referred to as cadets, and organized into military units. CSTC is still ROTC,”
Sarah Elago, Kabataan Party-list Representative, said in an earlier statement.
The measure seeks to impose mandatory preparatory CSTC for Senior High School students, two-year basic CSTC in college, and 30-day Summer CSTC.
Elago said these are made requisites for graduation from tertiary education.
In 2002, the Republic Act 9163 otherwise known as the “National Service Training Program Act of 2001” was enacted to include Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in the three components of national service, “thus it was made an ‘optional’ component program.”
In the substitute bill, however, it will be mandatory.
Threat to freedom
This is a “clear threat to academic freedom and press freedom,” said the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)-Davao.
With the implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, CEGP-Davao said the mandatory ROTC is yet another way to intensify surveillance, red-tagging, and harassment against progressive youth groups in schools, including campus journalists.
“It is in these times of heightened repression that student journalists must be daring enough to continue writing about the objective truth behind the anti-student and anti-people programs, projects, and policies of the Duterte regime such as the Mandatory ROTC in the guise of CSTC,” it further said.
In a separate statement, Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao Region said the measure is contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and laws stating that schools are “zones of peace”.
“Promotes violence and abuse of power”
The Association of Pre-Law Students of the University of the Philippines (UP)-Mindanao said the ROTC program is “ineffective” in instilling nationalism, discipline, and social responsibility among students, and instead promotes violence and abuse of power.
The group said human rights violation is already rampant in this department, such as physical and verbal violence versus students in the lower ranks. The program, it added, “promotes a culture of sexism and discrimination towards the LGBT student community because of the fascist and machismo system it encourages.”
These pre-law students not only reject the revival of ROTC but also the plan to make UP a testing ground of the new program.
Last February 24, a Technical Working Group in the Lower House tackled the proposed bill and all bills related to ROTC. (davaotoday.com)