Generally speaking, Filipino students were not too fond of the Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC) when it was a requirement to complete college. Pretending to be soldiers while marching and standing at attention under the hot sun or pouring rain was not anybody’s idea of fun. There was, therefore, much rejoicing when the military training course ceased to be compulsory.
It is unfortunate that the program was never appreciated for what it could do for the country, specifically its defensive capabilities. To recall, ROTC cadets formed a formidable force that fought the Japanese during World War II. They were an integral part of the guerilla movement that never surrendered to the invaders.
In other countries such as Israel, ROTC-style citizen’s armies are depended upon to serve as alongside their regular armed forces whenever there is a crisis or emergency situation, which is often.
Considering recent events that can be considered threats to national security, the government should consider returning the ROTC program as a must subject in all colleges and universities.
All able-bodied young men and women should be made to take the course.
It has often been said that eternal vigilance is the price we pay for our freedoms. As such, citizens should not merely enjoy their guaranteed freedoms, but must also take an active part in guaranteeing them.
Our young men, especially, should be trained in the basics of soldiering and be better prepared for the call to bear arms against the country’s enemies, if and when the time comes.
The ROTC promotes nationalism, volunteerism, and sense of duty, which seem to be absent from today’s youth. In addition, it also promotes sound health.
At present, the country has approximately 120,000 men and women in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and about the same number in the Philippine National Police. In comparison, North Korea—a much smaller country than the Philippines in terms of population—has an army of about one million.
Imagine, then, what would happen if the ROTC program were to be revived. How many hundreds of thousands of college freshmen and sophomores would be added to the absolute numbers of our men and women in uniform?
Coupled with the ongoing modernization of the AFP, the country would suddenly become a military force to reckon with, practically overnight.
A Republic of the Philippines with more than half a million police and military would be better able to protect its boundaries, including its waters.
Sometimes, having sheer numbers is enough to send the message that the country is serious and more than capable of protecting its territorial integrity against invaders, from whatever nation.