THE HOUSE committee on appropriations approved on Tuesday a substitute bill instituting the National Citizens Service Training Program (NCSTP) for public and private tertiary education students.  

The NCSTP shall be mandatory for all students in undergraduate degree programs in all public and private higher education institutions and technical-vocational education and training programs or courses,according to the bill.  

The training shall be conducted for at least four semesters or 240 hours in two academic years.  

Baguio Rep. Mark O. Go, chair of the committee on higher and technical education, said the bill addresses the decline in enrollees for the Reserve OfficersTraining Corps (ROTC), one of the options under the current National Service Training Program.  

It will institutionalize the vital role of the youth in nation-building, promote, propagate, and protect the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being,Mr. Go said in his opening statement.  

An NCSTP technical panel will be formed to formulate and recommend policies, standards, and guidelines for the program.  

It will be composed of representatives from various government agencies, security forces, and non-government institutions such as the Philippine Red Cross.   

The substitute bill added to the panel one student representative and two private sector representatives who are experts or practitioners in citizen service training, disaster preparedness, reservist training, and other related fields.  

Nueva Ecija Rep. Rosanna V. Vergara, meanwhile, proposed stronger penalties for those who will violate provisions of the proposed law.   

If you can pattern it after the amended hazing bills, that have its own penal provisions, that will just provide assurance to those worried that the bill might be abused,she said. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz