/ 27 December 2022

A COALITION of high school students vowed to launch protest actions next year to block the passage of House Bill 6487 or the National Service Training Program Act which the House of Representatives has approved.

The Student Leaders Against Mandatory ROTC deplored the failure of lawmakers to consult students about the issue.

“This is what a dysfunctional democracy looks like,” said Sophia Beatriz Reyes, president of the PHSA student government, one of the councils that initiated the alliance. “Millions upon millions of our country’s future are being enrolled by the government to a program that will divert our attention away from our academics and yet not a single one of us consulted”.

“We deplore the 276 congressmen who gave their affirmative votes. With only a little over six months since the national elections, you have already forsaken us, giving us a grim image of what to expect for the rest of your terms in office and more motivation for us to take it upon ourselves to oppose your leadership,” she added.

SLAM ROTC is composed of representatives from student councils and student publications in senior and junior high schools. It aims to block the ROTC-NSTC bill from being approved by the Senate.

“We are not in the business of merely opposing the enactment but we also intend to redirect the attention of lawmakers to the more pressing issues they need to prioritize. We need their promised and long overdue review of the K to 12 program. We need additional funds to address the ever-widening gaps in the education sector since the Covid outbreak, we need transportation and housing subsidies. We need them to reinstate the scholarships they took away,” co-convenor Braille Nichole Kwek of Camotes Visayan Institute in Cebu said.

As the last month of 2022 draws to a close, the group vowed to greet the new year with pestering and swarming protests, alongside the Senate deliberations.

“We would like to send an early message to our senators who plan to emulate their house counterparts and desist from pursuing NSTP and ROTC if they don’t want the youth to flood the streets in 2023,” Reyes said.