Mandatory ROTC for SHS: Shallow, restrictive concept of patriotism

The House of Representatives approved on May 26, 2019 by the third and final reading the House Bill (HB) 8961 which makes the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for Grades 11 and 12. This means that, all senior high school graduates are required to enroll in a two-year-compulsory ROTC component in college. Apparently, this is a shallow and restrictive national policy in upholding Filipino patriotism. 

 Making ROTC mandatory for Senior High School students would deprive them of the liberty to choose. And if it is only through military involvement we can show patriotism and instill discipline, other pertinent components of national and public service would be dishonored. 

The Senate version of Mandatory ROTC is yet to pass through the committee level as various issues where raised by the legislators relative to the nature and dangers involved in making it compulsory. Following this pendency, President Duterte urged the legislators to pass the bill in the soonest possible time. 

Clearly, the President strongly supports the ROTC to become mandatory for students because he believes it could significantly instill discipline and patriotism among young Filipinos. However, it would even be more laughable to determine that the president he admitted that he tried to skip ROTC as a student. How can a leader propose a mandatory ROTC component where in fact he has vigorously tried to avoid it?

Is the mandatory ROTC the only way to instill patriotism and discipline? In one’s shallow view, yes. This belief stems from a sternly chauvinistic and power-domineering stance. 

I believe that Mandatory ROTC is not the only means to manifest patriotism and inculcate discipline. If that’s—by any means, the sole basis  of patriotism then why had there been deaths inside the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) that is generally anticipated to be the bastion of Filipino patriotism, honor, and utmost discipline?

According to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Secretary General Raymond Basilio, “to truly instill patriotism, the youth must learn about our history, hence the need to reestablish Philippine History as a core subject in high school where they will have a better grasp of their and the nation’s identity.” 

Moreover, according to the article from Journal Online, Senator Pia Cayetano pushed for her Senate Bill 925, or the ‘Youth Patriotism and Bayanihan Act,’ which seeks to institutionalize a two-tiered program to strengthen the values of discipline, patriotism, and nationalism of students from Grades 1 to 12. She noted that the bill promotes the ‘soft security’ rather than the ‘hard security’. She highlighted the citizens’ ability to respond to threats through efficient management of resources than using military force.

Indeed, there are ways to instill a sense of patriotism and discipline to students other than making ROTC mandatory. Doing so not only forfeits the academic liberty of the students but also neglects our ideals for democracy.  

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