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Children’s rights group hits plan to make military training mandatory for high school

“The government should not forget that, in the eyes of the law, children are considered a 'zone of peace'"

A children’s rights group decried the proposal to make the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory for senior high school students.

“[It] is counterproductive to the government’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict,” said Vinzar Samiana, spokesperson of the group Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern.

Samiana said the propose measure “plainly violates” Republic Act 7610, which prohibits the presence of soldiers in schools and the use or recruitment of children in armed hostilities.



The children’s rights group reiterated its opposition against the mandatory ROTC in Senior High School following the pronouncement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to include mandatory ROTC among his priority legislative measures.

“The government should not forget that, in the eyes of the law, children are considered a ‘zone of peace,'” said Samiana in a statement. “It means that children should have the utmost protection during armed conflict, not as frontline warriors,” she added.

Salinlahi said students must be protected against any form of recruitment to become members of the Armed Forces or any of its civilian units or other armed groups.

Samiana said that RA 7610 defines children as persons below 18 years of age, or those over that age but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.

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In its statement, Salinlahi noted that abuses and corruption in ROTC “were essentially the reasons why it was made optional and voluntary under the National Service Training Program Act.

“ROTC instills a culture of violence among students and makes young women more vulnerable to all forms of abuse,” said the group, adding that ROTC has records of cases of violence against students in the form of hazing, verbal abuse, and psychological abuse.

One of the celebrated cases related to ROTC was that of Mark Welson Chua, a cadet of the University of Santo Tomas who was killed after exposing corrupt practices and abuses of the university’s ROTC.

“Instead of reviving the mandatory ROTC, the government should expand the scope of the NSTP and other disaster management-related courses,” said Samiana.

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