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Youth group slams ROTC bill Senate hearing for lack of youth representation

January 24, 2023 - Tuesday 5:01 PM by Caryl Gonzales

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As the Senate will push through the first hearing of the year of the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) bill, the progressive youth group Kabataan Party-list (KPL) condemns this as an “anti-democratic and cowardly move” because it lacks any youth representation.

The Senate hearing of its own version of the ROTC bill will be chaired by Senator Bato dela Rosa, which the group described as one of the proposal’s staunchest promoters.

“Pro-administration senators, specifically Senator Bato dela Rosa, are afraid of inviting youth leaders into the hearing lest they hear opposing arguments they cannot refute,” the group stressed.

They also recalled the “tantrums” rebuttal when Dela Rosa faced the youth leaders regarding the issue, noting it was not a good response to the well-studied stances of the students.

Last 2019, Kabataan Party-list Representative Raoul Manuel, then National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) President, mentioned his stance on releasing a convicted ex-mayor of Calauan, Laguna, during the Senate public hearing on the revival of the ROTC.

Manuel also mentioned the drug suspects killed in “Oplan Tokhang,” which Dela Rosa formerly initiated when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

This remark enraged Dela Rosa, and he chided Manuel for his “unrelated comment” and deemed it a “personal attack.”

“Worse, in failing to air any live coverage of the hearing, it seems they are deliberately attempting to railroad mandatory military service training in college campuses completely without the participation of its most relevant stakeholders – students, parents, and teachers,” the group reiterated.

The KPL affirmed that militarizing the country’s college campuses, which have “historically been bastions of academic freedom and dissent,” is nothing more than a cover for mandatory ROTC.

Placing military and uniformed personnel in schools does nothing to alleviate the crisis felt by Filipino youth, the group added.

“As the genuine youth representation in Congress, Kabataan stresses the importance of youth organizing and political involvement, especially at a time of educational crisis, the rising cost of living and expenses, and the decline of real wages, which are the root causes of the dissent that the AFP wants to weed out in the first place,” the group said.

The group then called on the Senate and senators to “sincerely” hear out and take the side of the youth on the issue and demand that there should be youth leaders invited as resource persons to the hearing.

The mandatory ROTC bill Senate hearing will happen on Wednesday, January 25.

Recently, Dela Rosa expressed his enthusiasm that the bill may be passed in the first quarter of 2023.

The proposed law, on the other hand, has been criticized by various student organizations and progressive groups.

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