DND, AFP back PBBM’s priority bills concerning nat’l security

The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed support to the proposed legislations of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. which would affect the security sector.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. (Photo courtesy of Bongbong Marcos FB)

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25, Marcos enumerated 19 priority bills that he would like the Senate and House of Representatives to pass to support the policies of his administration.

Among these are the Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP); Unified System of Separation, Retirement, and Pension; National Defense Act; and the creation of a separate Medical Reserve Corps.

“The President has articulated his direction and policies in his SONA. Since many of these require legislations, the AFP will be ready to provide inputs on matters related to national security,” said Col. Medel Aguilar, acting AFP spokesperson.

Out of these priority bills, the mandatory ROTC program has drawn the most buzz due to the sensitivity of the topic.

According to Marcos, it seeks to “reinstitute the ROTC program as a mandatory component of Senior High School programs Grades 11 and 12 in all public and private tertiary level educational institutions.”

“The proposed revival of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in senior high school will greatly enhance our efforts to orient and prepare our youth for national defense preparedness and disaster response,” said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.

However, opposition lawmaker Senator Risa Hontiveros objected to the proposed revival of the mandatory ROTC, saying there are different ways for the youth to show their nationalism and love for the country.

“Ito’y isang programa mula sa nakaraan na napatunayang hindi iyon ang optimal. Kasi ‘yong mga kabataan natin, may iba’t ibang paraan para mahalin at magsilbi kay Inang Bayan (This is a program from the past which is proven to be not an optimal . Our youth has different ways to love and serve the country),” she stated in an interview after the SONA.

The mandatory ROTC was abolished in 2001 after the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) cadet Mark Chua, who exposed the alleged corruption in the university’s military reserve training program. Chua alleged that some students would pay big sum to the training officers to avoid training but still get a good passing grade. After this, he went missing and his body was found floating in the Pasig River on March 18, 2001 – sparking a series of protest and the eventual abolition of the mandatory ROTC.


Meanwhile, Marcos said that he wanted the Congress to amend the “antiquated” National Defense Act of 1935 to provide a change in the military structure of the AFP and make it “more responsive to current and future non-conventional security threats to the country’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty.”

“The department has been pushing for an amendment of the NDA for years. A new NDA will determine the size, shape, and capabilities of the DND and AFP based on today’s realities and requirements,” Andolong said.

“It must be recrafted to optimize jointness among our major services and operating units, and address non-conventional threats such as cyber and cognitive warfare, terrorism, and climate change, among others which were non-existent in 1935,” the Defense spokesperson added.

Pension liabilities

The DND also “recognized” the need for a unified system of separation, retirement, and pension for military and uniformed personnel. In his SONA, Marcos urged the Congress to pass the Unified System of Separation, Retirement, and Pension which seeks to grant a monthly disability pension in lieu of disability benefits provided under existing laws for military and uniformed personnel retired by reasons of disability.

Andolong said that there are already several versions of the bill that are in the works at the Senate and House concerning this matter. He explained that the proposed reform seeks to control the looming unfunded pension liabilities for retired personnel which will continue to grow if the current scheme prevails.

“As various aspects of economic and fiscal management are involved, there is a need to study the proposals in order to craft a sustainable pension system that will be responsive to the needs of our military and uniformed personnel,” Andolong said.


The AFP and DND also supported Marcos’ plan to create a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) that will be separate from the AFP’s own Medical Corps.

Under Marcos’ plan, the MRC will be supervised by the Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH-EMB), and shall be composed of licensed physicians, medical students who have completed their four years of medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals.

Aguilar said the military will be ready to assist the DOH “should the task of organizing and training them is given to the AFP.”

Andolong, on the other hand, said: “The DND believes that it is worth pursuing.”