ROTC can help resolve mental weaknesses of students, develop their survival instincts—Galvez, Dela Rosa say

Making the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps compulsory would help resolve the mental health issues of students and at the same time develop their survival instincts, proponents of the measure seeking to make ROTC mandatory said on Monday, February 6.

Contrary to claims by oppositors of the bill that it can worsen the mental health crisis in schools, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.said having the ROTC program in place can actually be considered a “cure” to it.

“Yun ang pagkakaiba po sa NSTP, nasa puso niya po lahat ng ginagawa niya. Yung survival instincts nandoon, yung sinasabi natin na Mental Health Problem, it can be cured, kasi yung frustration tolerance ng tao, tataas (That's the difference of the ROTC with NSTP, everything he does is by heart. The survival instincts are there. What we say about a Mental Health Problem, it can be cured, because the frustration tolerance of the person will increase),” Galvez said during the continuation of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education’s hearing on the proposed revival of the ROTC.

Galvez also assured that military officers who would be tapped to teach and lead in schools are also trained “to be mentors, leaders and as counsellors.”

“Being a combat leader, na experience ko po, nabibigyan namin ng counseling and because of the counseling, nababago po yung tao (I also experienced that, we provide counseling and because of the counseling, the person also changes for the better),” he said.

“So yun po ang nakikita natin (That is what we see). I think Sen. Bato Dela Rosa is right. Napakatagal na ng NSTP natin, hindi natin nakita yung development sa youth ngayon na tinatawag nating (We have the NSTP for a long time and yet we do not see the development of our youth on what we call) sense of nationalism, self service at yung tinatawag nating (and what we call) commitment to serve the country,” Galvez further said.

Once the proposed bill making ROTC mandatory is passed into law, the law on the National Training Service Program (NSTP) would be repealed.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said he looks forward to it happening and said he is hopeful that the ROTC will bring down the suicide rates among students.

“Yes, hopefully it will,” Dela Rosa said when pressed about the issue in an interview after the hearing.

“Ako nag ROTC, ako nag PMA (Philippine Military Academy). Sa lahat ng problema na dinaanan ko, kung wala akong training baka tumalon na ako sa building, nagpakamatay na ako dahil mababa ang aking tolerance sa pag address ng personal problems (I did ROTC, I did PMA.With all the problems I went through, if I didn't have the training, I might have jumped off the building. I would have committed suicide because my tolerance for addressing personal problems is low),” the senator said.

“Chicks lang magpapakamatay ako? Nalusutan ko nga training sa PMA. Dito attitude development at tolerance level mo tataas. Hindi yung magco-commit ka na ng suicide (Will I end my life just over a woman? I even passed the PMA training. Here, your attitude development and tolerance level will increase. Not think of committing suicide),” the lawmaker pointed out.

During the hearing, youth groups such as the Akbayan Youth and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) urged lawmakers to consider expanding the role of the NSTP instead of pushing for the ROTC.

“There is more than one way to show love to our fellow Filipinos. Students should be free to choose, whether that’s ROTC, CWTS or LTS,” they said.

“If ROTC is made mandatory, students will lose their choice of service to the country as other programs will be relegated to the few who are exempted from ROTC,” Akbayan Youth chairperson Justine Balane said.

“We understand why other countries under a state of war require military training to protect civilians. However, the Philippines is not at war. Peace and order require economic security, health security, and a citizenry equipped with knowledge. That’s why community service and literacy training are just as if not even more important to nation building," Balane added.

SCAP chairman Ken Gilo also said there is a need to shift priorities and solve the current education crisis immediately, instead of making ROTC mandatory.

“Instead of adding a budget for two years of ROTC, why not repurpose these funds and address the 91,000 classroom shortage? This will improve conditions of our schools and for the hundreds of thousands of learners who cannot afford a college education,” Gilo said.

“We support the call to expand NSTP instead. Students who want to be reserve officers, community volunteers or teachers should all be supported,” Gilo added.

Dela Rosa, however, said the panel is open to considering their input on the debates regarding the ROTC.

But it doesn’t mean, he said, that they will give in to their whims.

“Ang pinag-uusapan dito ang defense ng ating bansa pagdating ng panahon na kailangan natin ng military reservist paano sila makapagserve kung wala silang military background (What we are talking about here is the defense of our country. When the time comes when we need military reservists, how can they serve if they do not have a military background?” he pointed out.

“Kapag sinabi ng commander lock and load ready, aim, fire, sabihin ng Filipino youth di ko alam yan. Hindi mo pwedeng gawin yan in terms of crisis (when the commander says lock and load ready aim fire the Filipino youth say I don't know that. You can't do that in terms of crisis,” Dela Rosa reiterated.