Senator optimistic on ROTC Bill approval

Senate Majority Leader Senator Francisco Tolentino (left) speaks before the crowd at the opening program of the ROTC Games 2024 held at Panaad Park and Stadium on Sunday. (Dolly Yasa photo)

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY—Senate Majority Floor Leader Francis “Tol” Tolentino is confident that his bill seeking to revive the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for Filipino students will soon be signed into law.

Speaking before the ROTC Games Visayas Qualifying Leg held in Bacolod City on Sunday, Tolentino, a brigadier general in the military reserve force, reiterated that the ROTC program can significantly contribute to the country’s national defense while instilling a deep sense of patriotism, nationalism, and discipline among the youth.

“ROTC is an effective way to foster teamwork, discipline, and patriotism, potent tools which can effectively hone productive citizens and future leaders of our country,” Tolentino pointed out.

Tolentino’s Senate Bill 1565 seeks to establish a mandatory two-year Basic Military and Police Training program for college students.

Exempted from Tolentino’s measure are varsity players, individuals deemed psychologically or physically unfit by certified military or police medical officers, and those exempted from training by the Defense Department or the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Tolentino’s proposal explicitly prohibits acts such as emotional maltreatment, psychological and verbal abuse, bribery, and hazing.

Students who opt out of the program will not be able to graduate.

ROTC in the Philippines began in 1912. It was scrapped in 2002 after Republic Act 9163, or the National Service Training Program Act (NSTP) of 2001, was enacted in response to calls for changes to the ROTC program.

The ROTC games started in December 2022 with the support of the AFP, CHED, and other relevant government institutions. Tolentino is the ROTC Games’ Honorary Chairman.

In a press conference following the opening program, Tolentino noted that the bill is already in the plenary.

“I think we can push this forward because it has the support of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” he added.

Tolentino also mentioned that the House version of the bill has already been approved.

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