• ROTC backers vows to deal with hazing, corruption

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    CORPS commanders, senior reservist commanders and top military officials have vowed to actively address hazing and corruption in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) even as they threw full support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the restoration of the program.

    In a national summit held at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, in Quezon City, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año on Wenesday said the military believes that it is time to bring back mandatory ROTC in schools to “ensure that the youth are shaped with a deep sense of patriotism and love for country.”

    “The mandatory ROTC program will strengthen national security since the country will have trained men and women who can defend their country in times of war and crises; undertake disaster, relief and rescue operations; and assist in socio-economic development,” Año pointed out during the summit attended by more than 300 participants.

    Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, explained that the ROTC is a key component of the AFP’s Reserve Force Development program.

    “Through this summit, we are able to connect the ROTC Corps commanders with the senior reservist commanders of the AFP to discuss common issues on the ROTC and its role in the reserve force,” he said.

    The gathering came on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the proposed restoration of mandatory ROTC in Grades 11 and 12 in the country’s public and private schools.

    Besides the AFP chief, other speakers who discussed the restoration of mandatory ROTC were Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and retired Navy captain Diofonce Tuñacao of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific.

    The ROTC was made optional in 2002 over a controversy that resulted from the death of Mark Chua, a student of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

    Chua was allegedly killed after exposing ROTC fund mismanagement at the university.

    At present, three bills calling for the revival of the ROTC are pending with the education committee–Senate Bills 1131, 200 and 189, authored by Sen.  Joseph Victor Ejercito, Gatchalian and Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, respectively.

    Gatchalian had said instituting a mandatory ROTC program for senior high schools students is a great way to bolster the military’s reserve corps while instilling the fundamental ideals of patriotism and public service among the youth. FERNAN MARASIGAN

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