Yesterday, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero De Vera III announced their support of the current administration’s plan to make the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory for senior high students. This statement was met with mixed reactions, with some agreeing and others protesting across the internet, igniting another debate.
A tweet that garnered a lot of attention among netizens comes from UP Diliman Professor Philip Zuniga, who compared his own experiences with ROTC and NSTP before asking the internet to weigh in. Here’s what netizens had to say:
NSTP has more options.
Plus si NSTP madaming options. Yung volunteerism ang tinuturo. Mas nakaka develop ng nationalism yun. Pinapakita pa nun yung iba’t ibang aspeto ng nation bldg.
— Always30 (@alwaysThirty) August 2, 2022
In case you’re not aware, the National Service Training Program (NSTP) is a program under which three components fall: Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS), Literacy Training Service (LTS), and ROTC. With the current set-up, students are given a chance to choose among the three tracks, instead of being limited to just ROTC.
NSTP addresses a wider range of issues.
Had NSTP and worked for an NGO specifically helping mga poor families where we babysit and teach the children while their parents are taught how to have their own business and jobs
— 花 hua pagod na (@huablush) August 2, 2022
With many sharing their experiences with the other components of NSTP, netizens emphasize how NSTP-CWTS and NSTP-LTS address a wider range of issues, including civic welfare, education, and literacy. Under CWTS and LTS, former students said they were able to do clean-up drives, plant trees, organize feeding programs, teach computer skills, and more.
NSTP tackles more immediate needs.
Sobrang backwards ng thinking na dapat ibalik ang ROTC. We should be prioritizing financial and computer literacy if we’re to compete within the region! Kung hindi business or IT ang major mo di ka matututo ng basic life skills needed in this economy.
— Joey (@soprettyjoey) August 3, 2022
Another netizen also believes that the country has more pressing issues to address, namely financial and computer literacy in light of the booming IT industry and volatile economy.
There are other threats to face.
We should train our youth to do basic audit, check govt contracts, report inefficiencies, delays and kotong, collate govt complaints, assist in govt offices etc… our real threat is CORRUPTION not war.
— Herrera S (@OinkLife) August 2, 2022
One netizen pointed to corruption as the real threat in the country. They think that instead of ROTC, students should learn how to keep government offices accountable.
And there are other ways to cultivate discipline.
I took ROTC for a year. What miffed me was that we had organizational events on Saturdays but I couldn’t attend because we had to march on the field for about three hours (we got bullied by some officers too). Working out/Doing sports is better at honing discipline + confidence. https://t.co/3ZGy3S68tB
— Serjey (@sillysili) August 3, 2022
Some who agree with the plan to implement mandatory ROTC say that ROTC is needed to hone discipline and confidence in the youth as early as possible. But for this netizen who has already taken ROTC, there are other ways to develop discipline and confidence in a student, such as sports.
The current form of ROTC doesn’t teach students much.
same here. get sun-soaked, march, learn how to applaud in sync, do push-ups for no reason other than a command, etc. I learned more skills in a 3-day Red Cross leadership and first aid camp than 2 years of ROTC.
I could do pushups without anyone ordering me to, anyway.
— Alizarine | deadpotato | Between1&2 (@alztryfer) August 3, 2022
In answer to the argument that ROTC teaches discipline, other former ROTC students also call attention to how the current ROTC system seems to be essentially ineffective. They point out how ROTC students don’t learn much from the program beyond marching, clapping in sync, and the like. And that doesn’t even delve into the potential dangers posed by the program.
Both can be useful, depending on the context.
ROTC helped me with my confidence and issues ko sa sarili so, it’s really helpful for me. Useful siya sa akin lalo na ngayong young adult na ako. But that doesn’t mean na sang-ayon ako sa mandatory ROTC.
Both ROTC/NSTP are useful in different contexts.
— nicalet (@veronicabtoran) August 2, 2022
Meanwhile, there are a few netizens who say that ROTC did help them as students and even after. One said the program helped develop their self-confidence and face personal issues, which made their transition to adulthood much easier. They added that depending on the context, all three components of NSTP — ROTC, LTS, and CWTS — are still useful.
…which means students should be given a choice.
Thus, ROTC should remain voluntary and not mandatory.
— Jace Trabuco (@imjaytrabuco) August 3, 2022
However, another netizen pointed out that is exactly why ROTC should remain voluntary and not mandatory. The current system in place with NSTP allows students to choose what they think is best for them and what they would find useful.
What are your thoughts on this ongoing debate?