Tuesday, June 4, 2019

ROTC bill can still be passed in next Congress

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4, 2019): ROTC bill can still be passed in next Congress

Despite the admission of some senators that the bill seeking the revival of mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program in public and private senior high schools won’t be passed before the Congress adjourns, Malacañang is not at all disappointed.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo expressed optimism that if the ROTC bill could not pass during the 17th Congress, it could still be approved during the next one.

“If it lacks time, there is another new Senate coming up so I don’t think that’s a problem,” said Panelo in a Palace briefing.

Panelo said he is also confident that several members of the Senate will support the ROTC bill.

There is now a dominance of pro-administration bets in the Senate following the recent May 13 mid-term elections.

Voting 167-4-0, The House of Representatives has approved their version of the ROTC bill, the House Bill 8961, on third and final reading on May 20.

In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III dated June 3, President Rodrigo Duterte certified the ROTC bill as urgent to “restore basic military and leadership trainings for the youth.”

Duterte said the revival of ROTC will also “invigorate their sense of nationalism and patriotism necessary in defending the State and to further promote their vital role in nation-building”.

Panelo said he personally supports the revival of mandatory ROTC, noting that it would prepare Filipinos to defend national security.

“I share the view that all citizens, able bodied citizens of the Philippines, male, female should be required to have compulsory military training for our own security,” Panelo said.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate does not have enough time to deliberate on the ROTC bill as well as other bills certified as urgent including the Public Services Act and Foreign Investments Act.

He said the Senate, however, gave priority to deliberations on the tobacco excise tax hike bill, also among the bills certified as urgent.

Panelo welcomed the Senate move to pass the tobacco excise tax hike bill on third and final reading.

“We need funds apart from trying to discourage people from killing themselves in a way. Smoking cigarette causes cancer and is dangerous to one’s health,” Panelo said.

The bill seeks an increase in excise tax for every cigarette pack from PHP45 to PHP60 for the next four years.

The measure is meant to reduce smoking prevalence among Filipinos and to generate additional funding for the government's Universal Health Care program.


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