Retired generals want ROTC back in colleges
MANILA, Philippines – Retired military generals are proposing that the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program be made mandatory again in schools again.
They noted that the abolition of the program more than a decade ago has weakend the country's "defense posture." This becomes a concern, they say, because of recent "developments" in the region.
"Geopolitical developments in the Asia Pacific region have accentuated the weaknesses of the Philippine defense posture and exposed the very limited capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to defend the national sovereignty," reads the resolution issued by the Association of General and Flag Officers Inc (AGFO).
It was signed by retired generals Edilberto Adan, Romulo Cabantac, Miguel Sol, Oscar Cabaron, and Quintin Alucia, among others.
The mandatory ROTC was abolished after investigation showed that a University of Santo Tomas student was murdered after he exposed alleged corruption in the ROTC. It became a volunteer program in 2002.
AGFO said the alternative programs in the National Service Training Program (NSTP) are "deemed insufficient to inculcate the values of discipline and patriotism required of every citizen and do not address the military training ideally required of every citizen."
"The revival of the ROTC as a mandatory program for tertiary students should be considered by government since the NSTP is seemingly wanting in attaining its objectives," the resolution added.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier made statements supporting the revival of the mandatory ROTC program.
For disaster response?
Sought for reaction, AFP public affairs chief Lt Col Ramon Zagala said the proposal is timely – because "we are experiencing, at the moment, threats."
He said the AFP is "very much capable of defending the country even if we dont' have an active ROTC."
There are about 354,000 in the Reserve Command, said Zagala.
Zagala said what can be done right now is to "enhance the program to make it attractive so our students will volunteer" to go through the program.
The corps could help in disaster response, he said, because it is a group that can be organized easily.
"We don’t need war to have patriotism. We don’t need war to show love for country. It's the responsibility of every citizen," he said.
"Our environment is fast changing. We have experienced floods and disasters in areas we did not have before. Where can you muster enough people to help respond immediately?" he said.
Zagala said the ROTC prepares young Filipinos to help the country. But he recognized the flaws discovered in the past should be corrected.
"People may believe marching under the sun or doing drills are useless. It is instilling discipline. Can you handle hardship and being under pressure? These are things you have to face when the country calls you." – Rappler.com