DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 July) — A top official of the Reserve Officers Legion of the Philippines (ROLP) is pushing for the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), arguing that the “defense of the state” should not be optional but “the prime duty of every citizen.”
During the mid-year program of the ROLP at the Grand Men Seng Hotel Saturday, retired Brig. Gen. Leoncio Cirunay, ROLP president said they want the mandatory ROTC revived to beef up the military reserve force of the country to support the government forces during war and disasters.
Cirunay, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and chair of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), acknowledged the support provided by the reservists in helping facilitate the humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced persons in the ongoing conflict between government forces and Maute Group in Marawi City since May 23.
He said reservists were activated to assist in disaster response in the Marawi Crisis. “Just in case there is large-scale disaster, the ROTC can help because the scope of their training is more on disaster response,” he said.
He said reservists are soldiers during war, economic developers in times of peace, and responders during disasters.
He said there is a need to increase the reserve force of the country due to the threats of terrorism.
Cirunay maintained the ROTC must be mandatory, explaining that the “defense of the state is the prime duty of every citizen,” however it was rendered “optional and voluntary” after the passage of the RA 9163, or National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001.
But Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution says, “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.”
He said there should be safety nets to prevent abuses such as hazing when students will have to render military service.
He suggested that retired military officers oversee the students who are under training to instill discipline.
“We have to do this and we should not abuse our youth because our aim is to instill discipline at to have good reserve force that we can tap to help just in case there are disasters and war,” he said in Filipino.
Even President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he approved of the revival of the mandatory ROTC. During Palarong Pambansa in San Jose, Antique on April 23, Duterte said he is “working on a law that would restore the Reserved Officers’ Training Course.”
“Those who are able to fight are those who are capable how to handle M-16, M-14 or mortar … will guide the civilians who do not know anything,” he said.
Various groups are opposing the move to revive mandatory ROTC, among them Anakbayan and the National Union of Students of the Philippines. Anakbayan not only opposes the proposal but also called for its abolition, claiming it does not promote nationalism, social responsibility or discipline but is a “training ground for fascist repression and corruption.” (Antonio Colina IV / MindaNews)