An ecumenical youth group reiterated this week its opposition to a proposal in Congress to pass a law that will make military service mandatory for students.
“Under mandatory [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] and its brand of blind obedience, the youth will only learn to point guns against their fellow youth inside schools,” said Kej Andres, spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP).
The Senate Subcommittee on Mandatory ROTC, headed by former police chief Senator Ronald dela Rosa, finished another round of hearing on Monday, February 6, on the proposal.
In a statement, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the proposed enhanced ROTC program will allow trainees to beef up their resilience and character.
Galvez made the clarification after some media reports claimed that the ROTC would help “cure” or address mental health issues.
“We have learned of the sensitivities raised by our mental health practitioners and advocates on what they believe is the improper use at the Senate hearing on Monday, February 6, of the word ‘cure’ for mental health issues,” Galvez said.
He said they understood and appreciated the concerns of these groups as mental health is an issue that affects the broadest spectrum of society.
“What we intended to convey during the hearing was that through our enhanced ROTC program, we would be able to build the strength of character and resilience of our trainees, qualities which positively foster mental health,” Galvez said.
He said the ROTC program also aims to develop among the trainees the basic psychosocial support competencies that are crucial in responding to stressful situations and contexts.
Andres of SCMP, however, said the ROTC program will only make students “fodder for the heinous counter-insurgency that has committed numerous human rights violations.” – with a report from PNA
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