MAJORITY of students in Catholic schools are against a proposal to revive the mandatory military training for college students, according to a survey by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

The poll, conducted among 20,461 senior high school and first year undergraduate college students from April 3 to 24, showed 53% of the respondents opposed bringing back the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a compulsory program.

Of those opposed, 32% expressed strong disagreement to the program.

On the other hand, 28% of student respondents supported a mandatory ROTC, with 6% saying they strongly agree.

The remaining 19% are undecided.

Of those interviewed by CEAP for the survey, 65% or 13,210 are female and the rest are male.

Those not in favor of the program cited threats of violence and corruption as their reason. Students also thought the mandatory ROTC would be an additional burden and expense to them and their families.

Others said it contradicts their religious beliefs, while some students also cited medical conditions, threats to safety, the possibility of physical and mental abuse as well as hazing and bullying, among others.

“As genuine representatives of the people, let us listen and stand with the youth,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel A. Manuel said in a statement on the survey.

Respondents who supported the measure said they wanted to learn basic military training, physical exercise, disaster preparedness, and civic management.

They believe that the mandatory ROTC would instill nationalism and patriotism as well as discipline and self-defense skills among students. Some consider there will be “compensation” through military uniforms.

Another survey in March, conducted by Pulse Asia and commissioned by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, indicated that 78% of Filipinos supported the mandatory ROTC revival.

Mr. Gatchalian’s survey, however, did not indicate whether its 1,200 respondents included students.

He earlier filed Senate Bill 2034, which seeks to revive a compulsory two-year military training program that will cover students in both public and private universities, colleges and vocational schools.

The measure includes basic military, leadership and civic training as well as enhanced preparedness during disaster response operations.

The proposed military training for tertiary level students is seen to enhance the capacity of the nation and its human resources in times of war, calamities and disasters, as well as national or local emergencies. It is a priority bill of the Marcos Jr.  administration.

The House of Representatives in December passed a similar bill in which students who complete a two-year training will become part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ reserve force.

The ROTC program is currently optional under a two-semester national service course.

Youth groups against the proposal said that military training for students should be voluntary. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz