Six in ten Filipinos want senior high school ROTC to be required.

According to a survey conducted by Pulse Asia for Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, 69 percent of Filipinos support the idea of implementing the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Program in senior high school.

According to Gatchalian, a majority of respondents—roughly 71 percent in the National Capital Region, 78 percent in the Visayas, 67 percent in Balance Luzon, and 64 percent in Mindanao—support the idea of senior high school ROTC being made mandatory.

"Among socioeconomic groups, support for mandatory ROTC is stronger in Classes A, B, C (71%) and D (71%), compared to Class E (54%). The survey had 1,200 respondents," Gatchalian said in a statement.

"Basic ROTC Program will include basic military training to motivate, train, organize and utilize students for national defense preparedness or civil-military operations. The bill provides, however, that no student below the age of 18 shall take direct part in hostilities," Gatchalian clarified.

He re-filed Senate Bill 387, which calls for the administration and institutionalization of the Basic ROTC program for pupils in Grades 11 and 12. He added that the program also includes civic education and readiness during actual disaster response operations, which would improve the country's ability to produce the required labor and increase its human resources in times of war, calamities, and emergencies. It would also support the government's strategy for fighting crime by building a pool of trained reservists.

According to Gatchalian's policy, students who have successfully completed the Basic ROTC program will be registered in the Reserve Force when they reach legal age, while those who choose not to participate in the required Basic ROTC program will not be eligible for graduation.

"Exemptions, however, may be given to students who are certified psychologically and physically unfit by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Surgeon General, have undergone or are undergoing similar military training, and those who are chosen as varsity players in sports competitions," he said.

Gatchalian emphasized that Senate Bill 387 contains safeguards and ensures adherence to the Department of Education's Child Protection Policy and laws, including the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act (Republic Act [RA] 11188), the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 (RA 8049), and the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act. Gatchalian also noted that the bill also includes provisions for the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse (RA 7610).

He added that it calls for the creation of grievance committees that will take complaints and look into claims of abuse, assault, or corruption.

"Hindi na tayo babalik sa dating ROTC, hindi na mauubos yung oras sa pagmamartsa, pagbibilad sa araw, importante yung  values, discipline, additional skills, and love for country," he added.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. included the ROTC Program in his list of 19 legislative priorities in his first State of the Nation Address.

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