Senators doubt ROTC bill to pass in 17th Congress

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By Charmaine A. Tadalan

THE proposed bill reinstating the Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) program in senior high school will not hurdle the 17th Congress, even as President Rodrigo R. Duterte certified it as urgent.

“Pipilitin namin pigain nitong araw na ito yung ROTC bill at saka yung Public Service Act, and yung Foreign Investments Act,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said in a radio interview with DzMM, Tuesday morning. (We will try to tackle the ROTC bill and Public Service Act and the Foreign Investments Act.)

He noted, however, that the ROTC bill will have to be refiled in the 18h Congress if it is not tackled even through a “paper bicam.”

“Kung hindi rin lang naman magkakaroon ng kasunduan na magkakaroon ng paper bicam, sapagkat hindi maaaring hindi kami magkaroon ng mga amendments, mapipilitan tayong magrefile na lang sa July,” he said. (If we cannot agree on a paper bicam, since we can’t let this pass without amendments, we will be forced to refile this in July.)

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, for his part, said the ROTC bill will not be passed on Tuesday’s session, during which the 17th Congress will adjourn.

“ROTC maiiwan kasi napakarami sa aming priority measures na hiningi ni Presidente, napaka-controversial. For example, ’yung ROTC bill, pito ang nakalista na mag-interpellate at halos pito din o walo ang gusto mag-amend,” Mr. Zubiri told reporters on Tuesday. (ROTC will be left behind because many of our priority measures sought by the President are so controversial. Regarding the ROTC bill, seven senators have been enlisted to interpellate, and around seven or eight want to amend.)

Malacañang on Monday said Mr. Duterte has certified as urgent the bill that aims to revive ROTC.

Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo in a briefing Tuesday said he expects the new set of senators to support the measure in the 18th Congress.

“If it lacks time, there is another new Senate coming up so I don’t think that’s a problem,” Mr. Panelo said.

“I think the members of the Senate also like this particular bill.”