MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) is in favor of efforts to make the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory again, saying this would instill discipline among students while augmenting the country’s military forces.
“This (revival of ROTC) will help bring back discipline,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told The STAR yesterday.
He said the program can be a source of commissioned officers and personnel involved in disaster response operations.
DND spokesman Eduardo Batac said making ROTC mandatory would help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) increase its manpower amid a huge budget deficit.
“The principal reason would be to form augmentation force for the AFP in the face of budget constraints,” he said.
“The President has expressed the need to increase the strength of the AFP but we have to look at the implications.
One of the good sources without burdening the budget is the revival of the ROTC program.”
Batac said the need to augment military personnel is becoming more evident given the rising population of the country.
“You’re talking of a population of around 90 million yet you have an AFP which has 120,000 (troops). The last time we increased forces was during the time of (former President Ferdinand) Marcos,” he said. The DND spokesman claimed that the ROTC has been a good source of competent military officers and personnel. The mandatory ROTC program was abolished in 2002 after then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9163, which established the National Service Training Program (NSTP).Due to the enactment of the law, the ROTC became just one of three programs offered to college students.
The other components of the NSTP are the Civic Welfare Training Service, which encourages students to participate in developmental programs, and the Literacy Training Service, which trains students to become teachers of school children and marginalized sectors.
Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas has filed House Bill 737, which aims to make ROTC an academic requirement, but this has been opposed by the militant Kabataan party-list, which claimed that the program is prone to abuses.
Batac said that the AFP will not tolerate hazing and other human rights abuses in case the mandatory ROTC program is revived.
“If there are incidents of hazing or other violations of regulations, we will deal with this severely while following due process.
It has never been our policy to violate human rights,” he said.
Batac added that the developmental components like civic activities and literacy training are incorporated in the military trainings.
“Even the basic principles of the AFP adopt these approaches. We still coordinate with local governments to find ways to support the national government.
We recognize that it has to be a holistic approach,” he said.