DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Since every citizen has the prime duty to defend the state, the Reserve Officers Legion of the Philippines (ROLP) is pushing to bring back the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), an official said.
ROLP President, retired Brig. Gen Leoncio Cirunay told reporters during the Mid-year National Convention of ROLP at Grand Menseng Hotel here on Saturday, July 29, the number of reserve officers in the country dropped since mandatory ROTC has been stopped due to several issues.
“The defense of the state was made optional that is why we are reviving it because in times of war we might run out of soldiers,” Cirunay said.
The mandatory ROTC implementation ended in 2001 following the death of a student and an ROTC member from University of Santo Tomas (UST) who was allegedly murdered because of exposing corruption in his unit. Thus various groups called on to stop ROTC.
In 2002, the Republic Act 9163 otherwise known as the “National Service Training Program Act of 2001” was enacted to include ROTC in the three components of national service, ”thus it was made an ‘optional’ component program.”
“It was like the defense of the state was made optional because people choose NSTP (either Literary Service Training or Civic Welfare Training Service). The provision that everyone’s duty to render military service is gone,” Cirunay said.
Cirunay, who is also the regional director of the Office of Civil Defense Region 11, mentioned that ROTC is one of the reasons and a contributor that students pursue military service.
Reviving the mandatory ROTC, he said, will serve as a tool to increase military reserve officers and as well as strengthen support to the military forces’ in times of war and disasters.
“So in times of war reserve officers are soldiers, in times of peace the reserve officers are economic developers in communities, during disasters we are responders,” Cirunay said.
Currently, the revival of mandatory ROTC bill is now in Congress after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the filing of the bill in February.
Various youth groups, including the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the League of Filipino Students, slammed Duterte for approving the filing of the bill.
The NUSP said: “Filipino students have nothing to gain from the proposal rather seeks to perpetuate a culture of blind obedience and impunity.”
The League of Filipino students also maintained that “ROTC instills fear and blind obedience stemming from its fascist and corrupt nature.”
Cirunay however stressed that when the bill passes, measures will be done to ensure safety among students and prevent abuses such as hazing. He said that ‘discipline’ should start within the instructors.
“Paigtingin dapat ang disiplina magsimula dapat sa mga instructors. Dapat magkaroon ng information campaign for instructors ‘yung awareness sa batas kung saan hanggan ang limit. Dapat qualified lang ang humawak sa ROTC, may tamang training at ang moral values ay mataas din,” he said.
Cirunay emphasized that the main goal is to instill discipline among the youth and to have a better reserve force in time of disaster and war.(davaotoday.com)