Free education for senior high; not ROTC

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In response to Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ statement on Wednesday (May 22), a labor research group expresses opposition to the proposed mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for Grades 11 and 12.

Citing DepEd’s report, the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) noted that together with the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines, DepEd had already identified schools near military bases in the country to be pilot-tested once the ROTC Bill becomes a law.

“Ang kailangan ng ating mga senior high school students, lalo na ang mga menor de edad, ay libreng makabayan, syentipiko, at maka-masang sistema ng edukasyon, hindi ang ROTC. Matagal na nating ibinasura iyan dahil napatunayang nagiging pugad lamang ito ng abuso, kurapsyon, bulag na pagsunod at maling pakahulugan ng disiplina,” EILER Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.

[Our senior high school students, especially minors, deserves a nationalistic, scientific, and mass-oriented education system that is free, not ROTC. We have eliminated it because it proves to be the nest of abuse, corruption, blind obedience and false sense of discipline.]

EILER also expressed concern over intensified presence of armed government agencies in schools. During the 2019 Brigada Eskwela activities, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has directed for the first time all its regional offices to join the nationwide schools’ maintenance week. PDEA is tasked to enforce RA 9165 signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002 and not school cleaning and beautification projects.

“Nanawagan tayo na hindi gawing mandatory ang drug-testing sa mga estudyante noong 2017 kahit pa ini-endorse ito ng CHED noon. Pero mapilit talaga ang kasalukuyang administrasyon na ipihit pa lalo ang war on drugs. Hindi droga ang problema, kundi kahirapan. Ayusin natin ang serbisyong pampubliko tulad ng libreng edukasyon para ang mga senior high graduates natin ay maging makabayan at makatapos sila ng kolehiyo. Kakabit nito, kailangan ng regular na trabaho na may nakabubuhay na sahod ng mga bagong graduates dito sa ating bayan, pati ng mga magulang nila para makaahon sa kahirapan, hindi mandatory ROTC,” Porras added.

[In 2017 we joined the call that drug testing should not be mandatory for students even if it was then endorsed by CHED. But the current administration is determined to intensify its war on drugs. The problem is not drugs but poverty. Let’s improve our public services like free education so our senior high students develop their nationalism and have a chance to finish college. To get out of poverty, our graduates, and their parents must have access to regular jobs with living wages here in our country, not mandatory ROTC.]

“We call on our newly elected senators to oppose the proposed mandatory ROTC and instead pass laws and promote socio-economic reforms beneficial to the people,” Porras concluded.

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