IT HAS been 16 years since the mandatory implementation of Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in the country was stopped.
This year, the present administration gave lights for its restoration. The ROTC was stopped in 2001 when University of Santo Tomas student and ROTC member Mark Welson Chua was found dead after exposing the alleged corruption in his unit.
The ROTC has since been offered as an optional program through Republic Act 9163 otherwise known as the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001. Under the law, all incoming freshmen students, male and female, enrolled in any baccalaureate and in at least two (2) year technical-vocational or associate courses are required to complete one (1) NSTP component of their choice as a graduation requirement.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the ROTC will be again proposed to be revived. And the easiest mean is to offer it in Grade 11 and Grade 12 of the senior high school.
The ROTC was institutionalized under Sections 38 and 39 of Republic Act No. 7077 (AFP Reservist Act) to provide military training to tertiary level students in order to motivate, train, organize and mobilize them for national defense preparedness. It gives emphasis on citizenship training and instills patriotism, moral virtues, respect for the rights of civilians and adherence to the Constitution.
The ROTC was mandatory to all college students since World War II until it was incorporated into and became one of the options in the NSTP in 2001.
The revival of ROTC will give advantages and disadvantages to the takers.
On the advantage side, the ROTC may benefit students through health and awareness. The training may cover many skills in basic life support, first aid, self-defense, combat preparation and survival, among others. Students will gain self-discipline and leadership experiences.
In completing the ROTC program, graduates may be commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. Having the rank means higher pay or salary with steady job. The training will also address security challenges and problems in the country as there are more potential youths to defend and secure the country against threats of terrorism or invasion.
On the other hand, some groups believe that the revival of mandatory ROTC requirement will again increase cases of abuse and corruption inside the school campuses.
Some claimed that the ROTC is a threat to academic freedom. Many of our male college students opted to enroll in the other NSTP components instead of ROTC. This resulted to reduction in number of ROTC takers since the implementation of NSTP Act in 2001.
The ROTC program started in December 1935 with the passing of Commonwealth Act No. 1, otherwise known as the National Defense Act which mandated the creation of a citizen army composed of a small regular force and a larger reserve component. Under the law all able-bodied male students enrolled in the colleges and universities in the country were required to undergo two years of basic military instruction.
In 1967, Executive Order No. 59 was issued making ROTC course a requirement in all colleges and universities. In 2001, Republic Act 9163, otherwise known as the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001 was issued making ROTC as optional requirement course in colleges and universities. However, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) are required to maintain and provide the ROTC component.
Since the implementation of the NSTP Act in 2001, a rapid decrease in ROTC enrollment was observed nationwide. This is a national phenomenon that we Filipinos need to act to counter its negative effect to the nation.