ROTC revival

Published July 7, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Senator Francis Tolentino


Senator Francis N. Tolentino

The Reserve Officers Training Corps. (ROTC) is a program designed to provide military training to tertiary level students with the aim of preparing the country’s national defense.

It is the policy of the State to maintain a standing or regular military force in times of peace, which can be rapidly expanded by the well-disciplined citizen armed force in the event of war, invasion, or rebellion.
For those unfamiliar with the ROTC since it was made no longer mandatory in 2001, the program required tertiary level students to undergo military training and were considered reservists.

Reservists, alternatively referred to as citizen soldiers, are those who are incorporated into the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This means that in the event of a war, invasion, or rebellion, reservists are called to serve and participate in safeguarding the security of the state and assisting in socioeconomic development. The purpose of the military training is to ensure their readiness to immediately respond to the call to service.

During the World War II when the Empire of Japan attacked the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1941, Douglas MacArthur mobilized the Philippine army, including Filipino reserve soldiers. Our history is rich in accounts recounting the unpreparedness of our soldiers during that time.

It was said that many Filipino regiments went into battle without ever firing a raffle. In fact, the commander of the Philippine 31st Infantry Division, Colonel Clifford Bluemel, stated that the enlisted men are proficient in only two things – “one, when an officer appears, to yell ‘attention’ in a loud voice, jump up, and salute; and two, to demand three meals per day.”

I recall that in 2018, former President Rodrigo Duterte lobbied for the passage of a law reinstating the mandatory ROTC program in public and private senior high schools nationwide. Again in 2019, he reiterated his call on Congress to pass the said measure emphasizing the need to strengthen our military reserves ready to fight in case enemies of the state attack.

I strongly agree with the former President’s call for the passage of such law. As a Brigadier General of the Philippine Army, I believe that making the ROTC programs a mandatory subject would instill discipline, sense of leadership, teamwork, and patriotism in our Filipino youths. Notably, the program would be conducted during the youths’ formative years, thus, molding them at a prime age to be nationalistic citizens prepared to uphold the Philippine Constitution. In addition, this would be very helpful in our campaign for disaster response preparedness. The ROTC program training would play a significant role in times of calamities and disaster relief operations.

Under the 1987 Constitution, “The prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people. The government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal military or civil service.”

The Constitution further provides that, “The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”

To truly enjoy democracy and our independence as a nation, we should insure the country’s freedom and safety.

Senator Francis “Tol” N. Tolentino is a member of the 19th Congress and is a Brigadier General of the Philippine Army (Res).