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UPLB students mobilize to slam NCST Bill

Deemed by youth and progressive groups as a “disguise” of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), the National Citizen Service Training (NCST) Bill has been passed in the House of Representatives after being certified as “urgent” by Malacañang.

Words by Claudette Alba

Students mobilized in Carabao Park, UPLB to oppose the passing of the National Citizens Service Training (NCST) Program.

House Bill No. 6687 or the National Citizen Service Training Program Act passed the third reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 15, after being certified as urgent by Malacañang. This is despite the strong opposition by youth and students around the country.

The said bill will remove the already existing National Service Training Program (NSTP) and will be replaced by NCST Program. While seeking to make Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) optional, NCST includes “citizen’s soldier training” in the first two years of college, which will be a requirement to graduate.

Bibigyang-daan nito ang militarisasyon ng mga pamantasan at paglabag sa kalayaang pang-akademiko sa pamamagitan ng mga School-based Ready Reserve Units,” Kabataan Partylist wrote.

(This will give way to militarization in universities and violation of academic freedom through school-based ready reserve units.)

No To Mandatory ROTC Network added that all who will finish NCST will be automatically part of the AFP Reserve Force.

NCST has been deemed by youth and progressive groups as “ROTC in disguise”. ROTC itself has been widely opposed due to its history of “violence, abuse, and corruption”, as emphasized by No To Mandatory ROTC Network.

During the mobilization in UPLB, Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice – UPLB (YAPJUST – UPLB) said, “Ang pinabangong MROTC ay nabubulok na MROTC pa rin. Ang human rights violators ay kailanman hindi makapagtuturo ng nasyonalismo.”

(A changed MROTC is still the rotting MROTC. Human rights violators can never teach nationalism.)

Police and military forces have been notorious for harassing activists, progressive groups, and even ordinary citizens. Case in point is the Bloody Sunday massacre, which saw nine activists killed under synchronized police operations. Just last July, farmer Maximino Digno and minor Kyllene Casao were killed amid the militarization in Batangas.

(RELATED STORIES: 9 patay, 6 arestado matapos ang ‘Bloody Sunday’ sa Timog Katagalugan; Magsasakang si Maximino Digno, batang si Kyllene Casao, pinaslang sa militarisasyon sa Batangas)

During the mobilization, activists encouraged fellow students to oppose NCST and MROTC.

Besides the inclusion of a citizen’s soldier training, the bill entails additional school costs to students. Universities are also given the option to ask for additional fees for the NCSTP Training Fee, according to the No To Mandatory ROTC Network. 

During the mobilization, progressives maintained how NSTC is an “anti-student” bill due to its policies.

Ang tunay na demonstrasyon ng nasyonalismo ay nasa patuloy na paglaban para sa tunay na demokrasya na may sosyalistang perspektiba,” Anakbayan Southern Tagalog said.

(The real demonstration of nationalism is the continuous fight for true democracy with a socialist perspective.) [P]

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