Uploaded by Christianpaul Casas

111Reviving ROTC

Reviving ROTC: Yea or
posted December 01, 2018 at 12:50 am by Jenny Ortuoste
"Ensure the integrity of course
commandants, the relevance of the subjects to be
taught, and the quality of teaching."
President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest bright idea is the revival of the Reserve Officers
Training Corps (ROTC), a military training program for civilians that has been
implemented on and off through the years.
The ROTC was once mandatory for male students in college; none of them would be
allowed to graduate without having completed the course. In 2002, Republic Act No.
9163 or the compulsory National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act allowed college
students, both men and women, to choose among ROTC, Literacy Training Service,
and Civil Welfare Training Service.
In order, he says, to “instill patriotism, love of country among our youth,” the President
supports the passage of a law that would make ROTC mandatory for Grade 11 and 12
students (senior high school).
There are two such bills pending in Congress: Senate Bill No. 189 filed in 2016 by
Senator Manny Pacquiao, and House Bill No. 5113 authored by House Deputy Speaker
Raneo Abu.
Duterte’s appeal to resurrect mandatory ROTC falls flat, however, the face of his own
declaration that he got out of ROTC back in his day by faking illness. He bribed a
tuberculosis patient to sell him his X-rays and showed those to school personnel at the
Lyceum of the Philippines, where he was an undergraduate taking political science.
If he tried out to get out of ROTC because he did not want to be yelled at (“Ayaw ko
talaga magmilitar, ayaw ko nga ‘yan sigaw-sigawan ako,” he told diplomats in July
2017), he does not have the moral high ground to compel others to take it.
But let’s set that aside and look at the pros and cons. What is being discussed here is
military training for civilians. There are 28 countries that require not just training but
actual military service for a certain period of time, among them Israel, Singapore, South
Korea, Switzerland, and Thailand. Other countries allow voluntary service, selective
conscription and so on.
In this light, training doesn’t seem so bad. A couple of decades ago there was, in
addition to ROTC, Citizens Army Training in high school, which has since been
discontinued. There are also the Boy and Girl Scouts in elementary. Some who went
through those say they learned important skills; others say they were just baked in the
sun and it was all a waste of time.
The training, if done properly and well, could be valuable and helpful. My eldest
daughter chose ROTC for her NSTP and learned navigation, map reading, weapons
handling, and first aid, skills she did not know before and likely would not have learned if
not for her ROTC stint. She learned discipline, from waking up early to obeying
commands of superior officers without question. Overall, she says she benefited from
the program as run by the university she attended.
In contrast, ROTC back in the day was marred by corruption. Students could pay off
their commandants to pass the course and skip all the marching in hot uniforms.
Nothing much was taught either other than field-stripping antique Garands and
Springfields and drilling. If the Armed Forces of the Philippines back then needed
people to do fancy marching, they had those in the thousands. Actual trained
combatants, not much.
If mandatory ROTC is revived, ensure the integrity of course commandants, the
relevance of the subjects to be taught, and the quality of teaching. Otherwise it will be a
waste of time and resources and students will once again come up with ingenious ways
of getting out of it, as Duterte did.