By Hannah Torregoza and Charissa Luci-Atienza
Some senators have expressed their support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s renewed appeal to make the Reserved Officers’ Training Corp. (ROTC) program mandatory for students.
Senator Richard Gordon, who earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1417, or the Citizen Service Act of 2017, said reinforcing the ROTC will foster nationalism and patriotism among the youth.
“The Constitution recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation building and seeks to promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being,” Gordon said.
“It also seeks to inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs,” he added.
Noting how the country faces a buffet of disasters, both natural and man-made, Gordon stressed it was important to have an army of reserved officers who could be called upon and mobilized to assist in matters of external and territorial defense, internal security and peace and order, and disaster risk reduction and management.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also backed the revival of ROTC and said Congress should strongly support the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s message on the urgency of passing an enabling law to make it mandatory again.
“I also fully support the President’s plan to require students in grades 11 and 12 to participate in a mandatory ROTC program. Naniniwala ako na ROTC is a powerful means of instilling a sense of patriotism and discipline sa mga kabataan natin, which is why I filed Senate Bill No. 200, the Mandatory ROTC Act, on my very first day in the Senate,” Gatchalian said.
At the same time, Gatchalian said a mandatory ROTC program will provide the Armed Forces with the support of well-trained reservists and potential commissioned officers.
In the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu sought the swift passage of his House Bill 5113 after President Duterte urged Congress last week to enact a law restoring the mandatory military training for students in public and private schools nationwide.
“I appeal to the House leadership to pass the ROTC bill in line with President Duterte’s desire to revive this aimed at promoting the prime duty of the government to serve and protect the people,” he said.
In his speech during the 35th founding anniversary of the Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM) at Camp General Mariano Riego de Dios last Thursday, President Duterte asked Congress to pass such law or he would issue an executive order (EO) reviving the mandatory ROTC.
Under HB 5113, Abu seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7077 or the “Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act” to motivate, train, organize and tap the students for country’s national defense preparedness or civil-military operations.
Abu said his proposal would instill patriotism and nationalism among the Filipino youth.
“I also believe that it awakens the fire in the younger generation to serve and protect our peace and democracy, whether it be through internal or external forces,” he said.
The Batangas representative thanked the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for expressing their support to his measure.
“As a large part of our children’s time is spent in school and this is where they spend most of their formative years, it is gratifying to know that we have the support of the Department of Education and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the re-institutionalization of mandatory ROTC through Grades 11 and 12,” Abu said.