MANILA - Sen. Imee Marcos on Thursday said she is against any proposed measure that would require the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program for Senior High School students.
President Rodrigo Duterte on his fourth State of the Nation Address last Monday said the mandatory ROTC program for senior high school students, saying students nowadays are “bereft of patriotism and the love of country.”
But in a forum, Marcos said: "You cannot coerce a kid to become a soldier... It’s overtly, completely military.”
"Hindi naman kailangan maging sundalo para ipakita na mahal mo ang Pilipinas,. You don't need to fight a war to show that you love and serve your country."
Marcos said she is instead proposing a “Citizen Service Program” for grade school to college students, a program which she said would still instill “discipline and patriotism” among the youth.
In a separate statement, Marcos said her proposed program still accommodates Duterte's call for military training for the youth but allows college students the choice of training in community service, disaster preparedness, and environmental protection.
She added that making military training an option for college-level students instead of a requirement for those in Grades 11 and 12 respects United Nations Resolution 1261 and other declarations on the rights of children in armed conflict.
The ROTC was made optional in 2002 following the controversial death of Mark Chua, a University of Santo Tomas student who was allegedly slain by course officers after exposing fund mismanagement.