File photo shows Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets Reserve Officers Training Corps ROTC FB page
MANILA, Philippines — Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation.
Should the current proposals to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps program in college pass Congress, even female students will have to participate, according to Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
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This is because most of the bills filed in the Senate do not provide any distinction between male and female students, which was one of the policy wishes of former President Rodrigo Duterte that apparently has made its way to the present Congress.
“You want gender equality, you don’t want to be considered as the weaker sex,” Dela Rosa said when asked what is the significance of mandating even female students to participate in the ROTC program.
“If we are invaded, men won’t be the only ones who will be hit with bullets, even women will be hit by enemy’s bullets. So we should help each other defend our country,” he added.
But women, LGBTQIA+ and youth groups said in a position paper the ROTC program promoted a macho, sexist, homophobic and violent culture, according to the Philippine Collegian.
“Making ROTC mandatory for senior high school students would only make them more vulnerable to discrimination, sexual harassment, even rape and other abuses,” Gabriela Youth, Bahaghari, Salinlahi and Girls for Peace said, as quoted by the Collegian.
Asked what safeguards will be in place to prevent abuses from happening, especially that he said that cadettes may also be handled by male officers, Dela Rosa said laws are already existing to protect students from these.
In the Senate, there are six bills that aim to reinstate mandatory ROTC either for Grades 11 and 12 or in the tertiary level.
ROTC was mandatory until legislative reforms were introduced following the killing of cadet Mark Welson Chua from the University of Santo Tomas after he exposed corruption in his unit in an article published on The Varsitarian.
Despite its bloodied past, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is pushing for the revival of mandatory ROTC as proponents tout that it would supposedly instill in the youth nationalism and patriotism.