MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte again voiced his determination to make the Reserved Officers Training Corps program mandatory for students.
In a speech on Thursday, November 22, he called on Congress to pass a law which would require ROTC training for grade 11 and 12 students.
"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," he said during the anniversary of the Army Reserve Command in Cavite.
Duterte also said he was considering issuing an executive order on mandatory ROTC, if Malacañang lawyers say doing so is legal.
"'Pag madala ng EO siguro, Executive Order baka mapilitan ako if they do not act on it (If it can be done through an EO, maybe I will be forced to issue one if they do not act on it). I said that this is a constitutional requirement that you must prepare to defend your country," he said.
Even as a presidential candidate, Duterte had been supportive of mandatory ROTC, even saying it would augment Philippine forces to repel Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
Two months into the presidency, the proposal to revive a mandatory ROTC program for college students was discussed in a Cabinet meeting.
The main argument of Cabinet members then had been that with a voluntary ROTC, “discipline and love for country is not instilled” among young Filipinos.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo had then said he would suggest amendments to Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001, which made the ROTC optional and voluntary in 2002.
While an undergraduate at the Lyceum of the Philippines, he supposedly tricked the military registrar by submitting another person's medical documents to prove he was too sickly to take ROTC, thus exempting him from the requirement. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.