Finally, there is hope for the revival of a mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
There will be some resistance to its implementation, particularly from youth groups who may not be so keen on stretching their limbs during physical training that the program entails, but hopefully the naysayers will realize that it is a worthy undertaking from which the youth and the country can benefit.
Students who undergo ROTC training learn discipline, nationalism, and service to others.
If implemented properly and the youth are trained right, the country is assured of a young potent force that can be tapped in times of need.
The purpose of Republic Act 7077, which made ROTC mandatory for college students, is noble. Its aim was to train, motivate and organize young citizen reservists, and mobilize them for military and civil service when needed.
Section 7 of RA 7077 explains succinctly the role of a citizen reserve force: “The mission of the Citizen Armed Force, alternately referred to as the Reserve Force, is to provide the base for the expansion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the event of war, invasion or rebellion; to assist in relief and rescue during disaster or calamities; to assist in socioeconomic development; and to assist in the operation and maintenance of essential government or private utilities in the furtherance of overall mission.”
However, RA 7077 was repealed by RA 9163, otherwise known as the “National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001. And since this law’s implementation, ROTC was no longer a compulsory program in college.
The older generation of Filipinos understands the necessity of a reserve military training program. It keeps students fit, it builds character. It teaches the youth discipline, and trains them how to become responsible members of society.
The country, communities, and the youth themselves will surely benefit if ROTC is made mandatory once again.
Some senators recognize the need to revive this program. Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian believes that ROTC not only boosts the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it is also a “powerful” tool in instilling patriotism in the youth.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, co-author of the law that made ROTC optional, has made a turn around and is now pushing for the mandatory implementation of this program.
“I can see now the logic in restoring the old system of training our college students via the ROTC program,” Lacson said in explaining his change of heart.
It is heartening that the Commission on Higher Education has responded in a positive manner to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to make ROTC mandatory once more.
CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan has announced the creation of a technical working group to study and recommend ways on how to strengthen the program.
With all concerned stakeholders working together, the Philippines will soon be joining other countries that train the youth as citizen soldiers. And we will all be the better because of it.
The Author is Teacher 3 of Buguey South Central School in Pattao, Buguey Cagayan.