DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Nov) — An Army official has expressed full support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to revive the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program and making it mandatory for Grades 11 and 12 senior high school students in private and public schools nationwide.
“Let me take this opportunity to ask Congress to expedite the passage of the Reservist Employment Rights Act that is currently pending in both Houses of Congress. I likewise encourage Congress to enact a law that will require mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 so we can instill patriotism, love of country among our youth,” Duterte said during the 35th founding anniversary of the Army Reserve Command (Arescom) in Tanza, Cavite on November 22.
“We support the President’s plan as part of the reserve development. The program should be implemented taking into consideration the lessons learned in the previous ROTC program,” Maj. Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, said on Sunday.
Balagtey said bringing back the mandatory ROTC will help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fulfill its constitutional obligation to produce a Filipino citizen that would defend the homeland.
“ROTC will help us achieving the real objective and purpose by way of promoting patriotism and instilling discipline to these students,” he added.
The ROTC program was abolished in 2002 following the death of Mark Chua, a student of the University of Santo Tomas who exposed the alleged irregularities in his unit.
ROTC became optional in college when Congress approved the passage of NSTP Act of 2001 or Republic Act 9163.
In 2017, Duterte approved Department of National Defense’s proposal to Congress to make ROTC mandatory for students nationwide.
“That simple hazing has resulted in an aberration of our country. Wala na akong deep bench na mahatak kasi ang next Filipino wala nang alam. Kulang ang patriotism. Ang gusto pasyal, inom, hithit. Doon dahil sa nawala ang ROTC” (I have no deep bench because the next Filipinos know nothing and lack patriotism. What they want is to gallivant, drink and smoke. And all because there is no ROTC), Duterte said.
He said he did not intend to let the children suffer, stressing it is for them that he wants the program to be mandatory.
“You have a duty to perform to your country when you grow up. It is your duty to defend the identity and the preservation of the Republic.”
“It has to be mandatory,” he said. (Mart Sambalud / MindaNews contributor)