By Mario Casayuran
Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao asked the Senate Tuesday to pass a measure, seeking to reinstate the Philippine Reservist Act that would make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory, as this will help secure and defend the country in times of national emergency.
“Reinstating the ROTC is consistent with the constitutional mandate that the government may call upon the people to defend the State,’’ Pacquiao said in a privilege speech seeking the approval of Senate Bill 189.
‘’More than ever, we need to strengthen our commitment to put our country above self,’’ he stressed.
He said the law requires the completion of the course as a requirement for all college students in acquiring their baccalaureate degree.
He said the mission of the Citizen Armed Force, alternately referred to as the Reserve Force based on Republic Act 7077, includes:
- To provide for the base for the expansion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the event of war, invasion or rebellion.
- To assist in the operation and maintenance of essential government or private utilities in the furtherance of overall mission.
Pacquiao stressed that the ROTC could be asked to assist in relief and rescue during disasters or calamities.
He cited Republic Act 9163, known as the ‘’National Service Training Program or NSTP Act of 2001, was enacted on January 23, 2002.
The program, according to Pacquiao, was crafted to enhance civic consciousness and defense preparedness in the youth by developing their ethics of service and patriotism.
The NSTP, however, made ROTC optional and voluntary.
Pacquiao conceded that there were problems and controversies in the implementation of ROTC.
“As solution providers, we will strengthen the accountability of the ROTC officers as well as everyone involved in the implementation of the program,’’ he said.
“Our government should not compromise the security of our land and the welfare of our people,’’ he added.