Military says mandatory ROTC to stop NPA recruitment in schools

MANILA, Philippines – The proposal to make the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for students would prevent the recruitment of communist rebels, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday, November 29.

Speaking at a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, November 29, AFP spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said ROTC would greatly help in stopping recruitment to the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"Napakalaking bagay po niyan na maitutulong sapagkat kagaya ng nabanggit ko kanina, isa po sa mga training, isa sa mga subjects na matututunan under the ROTC program ay sinasabi nating threats to national security," Arevalo said.

(That would be a big help because as I said earlier, part of the training, the subjects to be learned under ROTC would be what we call threats to national security.)

Mandatory ROTC? This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to require ROTC for students in grades 11 and 12.

There are already pending bills filed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Duterte also said he is considering issuing an executive order on the matter.

To battle communist recruitment? Regarded as the longest running communist insurgency in Asia, the conflict between the Philippine government and the CPP recently came to a boil after the government declared the NPA as a terrorist group over the killings of cops and soldiers.

Back in October, AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr had said the communists were supposedly recruiting students from prominent universities for an alleged plot to oust Duterte.

Arevalo said the AFP looks forward to "nationalism" being instilled in students so that they would not join the NPA.

"Dito po sa ROTC program na ito...mas mabibigyan natin ng kamalayan, ng kamulatan ang ating kababayan, lalong-lalo na ang ating kabataan," he said.

(Through this ROTC program...we would be able to raise consciousness and enlighten our countrymen, especially our youth.)

Deployment concerns? Arevalo attempted to suppress fears about students being sent to the front lines.

Reservists, he emphasized, don't necessarily need to be in the battlefield. They could help in relief operations and offer technical knowledge during crises.

"Meron pa po tayong regular force, kami po 'yun, kami po ang pangunahing haharap sa mga hamon at sa challenges (We still have a regular force, that's us, we'll primarily face the threats and challenges) when it comes to military operations. But members or graduates of ROTC will form part of the reservist force na puwede pong tawagin (which we can call upon)," Arevalo said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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