AFP backs return of ROTC, says strong nations have it
THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines yesterday said the military welcomed the proposal to return the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program to colleges and universities not only to shore up the country’s reserve force but to equip students with skills they could use.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a press forum in Quezon City the “strongest nations” in the world had very good military service traditions. Cases in point, he said, were South Korea and Singapore which imposed on their citizens mandatory two-year military service.
He noted that apart from military skills, the service also made citizens “more patriotic.”
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian recently filed Senate Bill No. 200, the Mandatory ROTC Act, restoring the mandatory two-year military training course in colleges and universities that was abolished in 2002.
Responding to criticism that the ROTC program in the past was hounded by the proliferation of hazing, corruption, abuse by trainers, and students not learning anything other than marching in the field, Padilla said they were studying how this could be prevented and how the program could be strengthened.
For one, the program could be enhanced so “students will not only learn basic life support and life-saving skills in times of disaster but also security functions that would allow them to respond whenever civil disturbances arise.”
In senior high school
Padilla said they were also looking at the possibility of incorporating ROTC in senior high school to let those who will not pursue college become soldiers.
Meanwhile, a youth group—called the Duterte Youth Movement—said it would lobby Congress tomorrow to push the proposal to return the mandatory ROTC program in college, the Citizenship Advancement Training in high school and scouting in elementary school.
“Our Asian neighbors have strengthened their required military training programs for the youth and now you can see how all of them, especially Singapore and South Korea, have enhanced discipline, nationalism and cooperation among their youth,” Duterte Youth Movement chair Ronald Cardema said.
He said that because of this, not only did the two countries strengthen their defense forces but also “mobilize their citizens for economic development and other nation-building efforts.”
Cardema is also chair of the Kabataan for Bongbong (Marcos) Movement.
Earlier, Patricia Licuanan, head of the Commission on Higher Education, said the proposal to restore mandatory ROTC needed further study. She said there were other ways to promote patriotism and community service among the youth.
ROTC as a prerequisite for college graduation was abolished in 2002 after a series of corruption scandals and youth protests against the course.
Anti-ROTC sentiments were further fueled by the murder of a student of University of Santo Tomas, Mark Welson Chua, who had reported on allegations of corruption in the ROTC program in the school’s student publication.
Congress responded by passing a law (Republic Act No. 9163) making ROTC an elective, one of several courses a student could take to comply with a new National Service Training Program. Others involved learning community social and educational work.