After drawing flak, Galvez clarifies remark on ROTC ‘curing’ mental health

GALVEZ ATTENDS HEARING: Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday, February 6, 2023 attends the public hearing of the Higher, Technical and Vocational Education Subcommittee on several bills mandating higher education students to undergo Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). (Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. clarified his position after being criticized for saying that the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) could cure mental health issues.

Galvez, in a Senate hearing on Monday, said the “experiential” learnings from the ROTC program can help improve the “frustration tolerance” of students, which in turn, could “cure” mental health issues.

Ver Reyes of the Psychological Association of the Philippines questioned Galvez’s remarks, noting that the solution to mental health problems is “not all encompassing.”

“We have learned of the sensitivities raised by our mental health practitioners and advocates on what they believe is the improper use at the Senate hearing on Monday,  February 6, of the word ‘cure’ for mental health issues,” Galvez said in a statement on Monday night, adding that the Department of National Defense (DND) will “carefully take into account” the issues raised by mental health advocates in the crafting of the ROTC  training program.

“We fully understand and appreciate their concerns, as mental health is an issue that affects the broadest spectrum of society. We would therefore like to address certain misconceptions which have surfaced and clarify our agency’s position regarding this matter,” he added.

Galvez  then clarified that he meant that the ROTC program would build strength and resilience which has a positive effect on mental health since it bolsters the students’ ability to respond to stressful situations.

“What we intended to convey during the hearing was that through our enhanced ROTC Program, we would be able to build the strength of character and resilience of our trainees, qualities which positively foster mental health,” he said.

“Further, as a policy and program of the national government, the ROTC Program aims to develop among the trainees the basic psychosocial support competencies that are crucial in responding to stressful situations and contexts,” he added.

Galvez also noted that the DND wants the ROTC program to be designed to foster resilience, self-leadership, character-building, and discipline.

“We believe these are virtues that our trainees must cultivate not only for their personal growth and development as individuals, but more importantly, enable them to play a key role in building a just, humane and democratic society,” he said.


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