By: Jennifer P. Rendon
STRENGTHENING discipline and love for country in the youth is the vision of the government, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The Philippine Armys 3rd Infantry Division shares this sentiment by supporting moves to require Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a mandatory subject for senior high school students.
Newly-designated 3ID spokesman, Captain Cenon Pancito III, said they have seen the lack of discipline and love for country among the youth.
The ROTC will hopefully be an avenue to win our youth para sa perspective na makabayan, mas totoong Pilipino na may disiplina, he said.
Pancito said he owed a lot to ROTC.
In general, we are what we are because of the ROTC program, he said.
On top of molding the youth to be more patriotic, the ROTC will help boost the countrys defense.
They could be as members of the Reservist Force. In times of emergency and crisis we could mobilize these people, he said.
Amid the issues on corruption hurled at ROTC, Pancito asked the public to shun away with the negative part.
The intention of the government is not meant for corruption but to develop their character, he said.
Instead, he asked the public to be on guard against possible abuses once the ROTC program becomes mandatory.
Earlier, Major Jo-Ann Petinglay, commander of the 604th Community Defense Center (CDC) of the 6th Regional Community Defense Group, said they are also pushing to make ROTC mandatory again.
The RCDG is a Unit under the Army Reserve Command of the Philippine Army.
ROTC has its advantages. It is designed to train students and cadets to be of service to the Department of National Defense in case of disaster, she said.
Second, cadets are being trained to become enlisted reservists of the Reserve Component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
It also promotes the spirit of nationalism and patriotism of our youth. Fourth, enhancement and promotion of their physical, emotional spiritual, and moral well being of the person, she said.
Petinglay said ROTC also becomes a good source of community leaders for the future, not to mention that our ROTC cadets will be a good source of first responders in case there is a national disaster.
Petinglay noted a big decline in ROTC takers since it was made optional in 2002.
From a whooping 800,000 enrollees, it went down to only 150,000 the following year.
There are only 28 ROTC units all over Western Visayas.
NSTP TAKE OVER
Taking over ROTC was the National Service Training Program (NSTP) wherein college students are allowed to choose from ROTC, Literacy Training Service (LTS), and Civil Welfare Training Service (CWTS), as part of their required NSTP.
Republic Act 9163 or the NSTP Act of 2001 was signed into law on Jan. 23, 2002.
The move was an offshoot of allegations that students paid their officers in order to get passing grades sans attending ROTC activities.
Mark Chua, a student of the University of Santo Tomas, exposed this practice in The Varsitarian in February 2001.
Chua, along with fellow cadet Romulo Yumul, disclosed the alleged corruption in the university’s ROTC program.
Shortly after the story got published, he went missing. A month later, his body was found floating in the Pasig River.
Three years later, the court found ROTC cadet Arnufo Aparri Jr. guilty of killing Chua.
Aparris co-accused, Eduardo Tabrilla, pleaded guilty to homicide in 2006.
However, the two other persons who were tagged in the case a certain Paul Tan and Michael Manangbao remain at-large.
Lately, Rep. Raneo Abu filed House Bill 5113 in a bid to revive and resuscitate the ROTC.
While the bill is being debated upon, Petinglay hoped that the parents and students will see how it can help the youth.
I hope they would see the importance of ROTC because it will instil discipline, camaraderie, preparedness, she said.
Petinglay said its not just about our national security but for the youths personal development.
ROTC intends to make the person a better version of himself, she said.