By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

THE House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill reviving the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) for senior high school students.

House Bill 8961 is a consolidated version based on the bill authored and filed by Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo E. Abu.

The chamber approved the bill with 167 affirmative votes, four negative votes, and zero abstention.

In the proposed Reserve Officers Training Corps Act, students in grades 11 and 12, in both public and private schools, are required to undergo the said training.

The ROTC program includes lesson in patriotism, basic military training, and civic training.

Students who fail to undergo ROTC shall not be qualified for graduation.

Exempted, however, are students who are physically and psychologically unfit, as well as varsity players.

The proposed law also states that students who have undergone basic ROTC class are to be considered first-level civil-service eligible. Those who have undergone the optional advanced class shall be deemed second-level civil-service eligible.

Graduates of the basic ROTC class are also eligible for lateral entry and enlistment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Coast Guard, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and Bureau of Fire Protection.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah I. Elego, one of four lawmakers who voted against the bill, said in a statement: “These policies, if enacted, would only legitimize the systemic attacks the state has undertaken against those critical of its administration. Numerous campaigns led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police were launched to create false hysteria within universities by resorting to the red-tagging of nationalist and progressive groups falsely accused as recruiters and members of the New Peoples’ Army.”