‘Public libraries, parks first’: Gatchalian urged amid push for mandatory ROTC

August 19, 2022 - 11:46 AM
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian during a consultative meeting on the Amendments to the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers on August 18, 2022 (Facebook/Sherwin Gatchalian)

(Updated: Aug. 20; 3:51 p.m.) Calls for better urban planning were made online following Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian‘s remark on why parents support mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

In an event on August 17, Gatchalian told reporters that children nowadays lack discipline and physical activity because of cellphones, TikTok and games.

“Dahil madami sa ating mga magulang, nakikita ang anak nila puro cellphone na lang, Tiktok, or games, so nakita nila nawala na ang physical activity and disiplina, gusto din ng mga magulang ibalik ang disiplina,” the senator was quoted in the report as saying.

Gatchalian stated that this is why most parents support ROTC, citing data from a Pulse Asia survey he commissioned.

The survey indicated that 69% of them strongly agreed with the proposal, and 26% of them only “somewhat agreed.”

Among those who strongly agreed, 71% of them came from the National Capital Region, 67% of them from Luzon, 78% of them from the Visayas and 64% from Mindanao.

“We conducted a survey, 70% wants ROTC. So a big majority…70% that’s super majority of our population gusto ng ROTC,” Gatchalian was quoted in the report as saying.

This poll was conducted from June 24 to 27.

It asked 1,200 participants the following question: “How much do you agree or disagree with the proposal to implement ROTC for all students in Senior High School or Grades 11 to 12?”

‘Build better public spaces first’

Some Filipinos brought up the lack of public spaces for recreation and physical activities for children in response to Gatchalian’s remarks.

“Could’ve built parks and spaces for play, physical activity like gyms, even basketball courts. Cities could also be walkable if only they were built for people, not for cars,” one online user said.

“Physical activity, social interaction, and empathy are all built around your city planning. Your generation built massive roads, highways, malls but with little no public spaces, parks, waterfronts, etc.,” tweeted transport planner Elijah Go Tian.

Others also pointed out that developing public libraries and parks may resolve the issue on discipline of students instead of reinstating the ROTC program.

“ROTC isn’t the right solution to discipline students, what if u fund public libraries at maayos na mga parke?” one online user said.

“So why is ROTC their first solution? How about sports or open parks for kids to enjoy themselves rather than being forced?” athlete Karl Bautista tweeted.

Some Filipinos also highlighted the tough lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced children to stay indoors.

“It’s almost like we had a GLOBAL PANDEMIC that prevented kids from going outside huh,” one online user said.

A priority bill

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mentioned the reinstatement of ROTC as one of the priority legislations during his first State of the Nation Address last July.

In his address, he said that the ROTC program will be a “mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions.”

“The aim is to motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations,” Marcos said.

RELATED: Mixed reactions to Marcos’ proposed return of mandatory ROTC | FULL TEXT: Marcos’ 2022 State of the Nation Address