Sunday, August 14, 2022

Mandatory ROTC: Why It Was Abolished And Why Is It Now Pushed

Mandatory ROTC: Why It Was Abolished And Why Is It Now Pushed


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The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or ROTC is a program designed to provide military training with the aim of preparing the country’s national defense. It is the policy of the State to maintain a standing or regular military force in times of peace, which can be rapidly expanded by a well-disciplined citizen armed force in the event of war, invasion, or rebellion. It claims to instill patriotism and love for the country among the youth.


Yet why was the mandatory ROTC abolished?

In February 2001, corruption in the University of Santo Tomas’ ROTC programs was disclosed by Mark Chua, along with his fellow cadet Romulo Yumul. Chua was then a 19-year-old mechanical engineering student when he filed a formal complaint titled, “Struggle Against the System” published in the Varsitarian, UST’s official publication. This caused the relief of Maj. Demy Tejares from duty as commandant of the ROTC unit together with the other Department of Military Science and Tactics officials.

But it didn’t end there as Chua went missing the following month. His parents received a call claiming their son was kidnapped and the kidnappers asked for a P3-million ransom. On March 18, 2001, two days after the call, Chua’s decomposing body was fished out of the Pasig River, rolled in carpet with his hands and legs hogtied and his face wrapped with silver duct tape.

Chua’s death brought clamor for the abolition of the mandatory ROTC. On January 23, 2002, RA 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001 was signed, allowing college students to choose between ROTC, Literacy Training Service and Civil Welfare Training Service as part of their required NTSP.

In June 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent a Senate measure mandating Grades 11 and 12 to mandatorily undergo ROTC program to “invigorate their sense of nationalism and patriotism necessary in defending the State and further promote their vital role in nation-building”.

In December of the same year, he once again renewed his call on Congress to pass the mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program in public and private senior high schools nationwide. The House of Representatives in the 17th Congress approved its measure reviving the mandatory ROTC for senior high school students, but the Senate failed to pass its version of the bill.

In 2022, mandatory ROTC is among the priority bills in the administration of President “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. In his first State of the Nation Address, he said that reinstituting the ROTC program as a mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions will motivate, train, organize, and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations.

The push for the return of the mandatory ROTC is led by Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, which she already mentioned in their campaign rallies. Lawmakers Robin Padilla and Bato Dela Rosa also included the revival of the mandatory ROTC in their top 10 priority bills in the 19th Congress.

Meanwhile, some legislators and security personnel oppose and say that the revival of the mandatory ROTC could instill and promote violence all over the country. If patriotism is the issue, youth can still show their love for the country in different ways.


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