YOUTH GROUPS on Wednesday condemned the exclusion of representation from their sector in Senate deliberations on the proposed revival of mandatory military training among tertiary level students.
They lambasted in particular Senator Ronald M. Dela Rosa, who chaired the meeting, calling him “cunning” for refusing to hear the youth’s stance on the plan to reinstate the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).
“Because of its history and culture of impunity, as well as added burden, the youth have every right to block the reimposition of Mandatory ROTC,” ecumenical youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines National Spokesperson Kej Andres, who was among those who protested at the Senate gates, said in a statement.
“Yet no youth representatives are being invited in the subcommittee hearing headed by Senator Bato dela Rosa,” he added.
Moves to abolish the ROTC as a mandatory program in 2022 was prompted by the murder of a private university student who reported on corruption in the system with students paying off military training officers to skip the drills but pass the requirement.
National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Spokesperson Joshua Aquiler, who was also at the protest site, said in a video recording that the Senate did not allow them to join the hearing even after they went through due process.
“It is necessary to have representation inside, and not just from the military, the policy makers who will decide on this. We are the primary sector, our voices should be the priority of the Senate,” Mr. Aquiler said.
Mr. Dela Rosa told reporters that youth representatives will be invited in the next hearing.
“We know that they don’t want it, so what will they contribute in the hearing?” he said in Filipino. “Even if we know that they don’t want it, in the next hearing let’s invite them anyway.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan