The National Union of Students of the Philippines expressed disappointment with how the Senate hearing on reviving the ROTC program turned out, particularly with neophyte Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa’s responses.
NUSP member Raoul Manuel earned the ire of Dela Rosa during the Senate probe when he mentioned the lawmaker’s stance of giving rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez a “second chance” to walk free.
Dela Rosa, the former Philippine National Police head who led the government’s bloody drug war through Oplan Tokhang, suddenly lost his cool and scolded Manuel for it as he perceived the student leader’s remarks irrelevant to the conversation.
NUSP said that this behavior showed a lot of the lawmaker’s character.
“Senator Bato, for his part, remains desperate and clings to the fallacious claims that more Filipino students actually prefer the ROTC program, and that additional expenses for ROTC are not a burden at all to families–a blinding contrast to fact,” NUSP said.
[On the August 22 Public Hearing on Senate Bills to Revive Mandatory ROTC via Senior High School (SHS)]The National…
A Pulse Asia survey released early this year showed that 80% of the respondents agreed to the proposal to implement ROTC either in senior high school or in college.
However, this survey was commission by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, one of the supporters of reinstating the reserved force training in schools.
The student organization recalled that their representatives were given “little to no time” to express their sentiments and arguments on the matter even if this directly affects them.
Student council members were also denied to speak up. They resorted to submit their position papers to the Senate committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture before the hearing ended.
NUSP cited law enforcement and human rights education that the proponents claimed to integrate with the controversial program during the conference.
“The Union reiterates that the government cannot hope to teach something they themselves do not uphold. Additionally, these claims only cover up the state’s real intent to militarize our schools,” the group said.
Manuel, meanwhile, described Dela Rosa as “onion-skinned” when he threw a fit as an attempt to defend himself that time.
“We would not witness an onion-skinned Bato dela Rosa today without the collective rage of the Filipino people over the current state of our nation. The challenge now is to come together to create meaningful change!” he said on Facebook.
We would not witness an onion-skinned Bato dela Rosa today without the collective rage of the Filipino people over the…
Manuel previously threw shade at Dela Rosa whose Oplan Tokhang killed thousands of Filipinos, particularly children, and wished to release Sanchez despite his crimes during his speech.
He was pointing out why it’s difficult to consider the senators’ claims on the “benefits” of the proposed ROTC measure.
Rather than addressing the points or concerns that Manuel made, senators Dela Rosa, Gatchalian and Pia Cayetano reprimanded the student representative for they perceived him disrespectful to the committee members.
Reviving ROTC program
President Rodrigo Duterte had been pushing for the mandatory ROTC policy since 2018 as his way to instill patriotism and nationalism to the students.
Several groups and lawmakers have opposed to this given the poor state of the local education system and the irony of Duterte’s anti-patriotic position in the maritime dispute with China.
Leftist groups also perceived this measure as a way for the government to militarize the schools.
Experts argued that nationalism and patriotism have different implications despite both referring to love of country.
Patriotism is based on the inherent goodness of the system of government while nationalism is rooted on a superiority complex that tears other countries down.
Based on the current law, the ROTC is only a voluntary option for the students under the overall National Service Training Program taken during the two semesters of an academic period.
The other two tracks are the Civic Welfare Training Service and the Literacy Training Service program.
The last time ROTC became mandatory was during the presidency of late Manuel Quezon.
It became voluntary when the death of an ROTC cadet from the University of Santo Tomas exposed the corruptions of the unit that time.