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No, forcing women into mandatory ROTC is not gender equality: GABRIELA to senator Bato dela Rosa

Press Release
August 14, 2023

QUEZON CITY – “Forcing young women to undergo mandatory ROTC is NOT gender equality. It just means we are now throwing both halves of the population into militarist, macho, and misogynistic education under ROTC”. This was the resounding statement today of Joms Salvador, the Vice-Chairperson of GABRIELA.

The woman leader’s message was issued as a response to Senator Bato dela Rosa, who defended the widely challenged mandatory ROTC bill in the Senate hearing, stating: “Sila (kababaihan) ang nagsisigaw ng gender equality…Gender inequality ‘yan kung ayaw nilang sumabay!” (They, the women, are the ones shouting for gender equality…that’s gender inequality if they don’t want to participate!)

“The case studies surrounding mandatory ROTC and its disproportionately harmful effects against female students is well-documented. We have seen plenty of cases of ROTC-facilitated intimidation, sexual harassment, rape, hazing, and many other forms of gendered violence against women and LGBTIQ students in the program. In what world is institutionalizing a program with such a horrific track record considered gender equality?” questioned Salvador.

“Instead of teaching women to accept abuse and obey without question – precisely what ROTC instills – let us teach our young girls the value of critical thinking, of speaking out in the face of exploitation. Let us teach women patriotism, not through blind submission to authority, but through conscious action rooted in political education and understanding of Philippine history and society. Instead of mandatory militarism through ROTC, it would be far more productive to address the gaps in the Philippine education system by strengthening learning on gender inclusivity, critical thinking, human rights, history, and sovereignty,” concluded Salvador.