Many policy and implementation reforms are desired in the ROTC Program.
Debates have been intense on the revival of the mandatory ROTC program, particularly among youth groups.
The House of Representatives has passed on second reading a bill seeking to revive the mandatory ROTC for Grades 11 and 12 in both public and private schools nationwide as a graduation requirement under the K to 12 Program.
Several youth groups have slammed this proposal, citing incidents of violence and student rights violations in the past ROTC regime. On the other hand, NYC Chairman Ronald Cardema claims that "radical leftist youth leaders" are opposed to the ROTC revival in support of rebel groups.
Overall, the ROTC Program advances and enhances the youth's leadership capabilities, basic military skills, and civic consciousness. Currently, the ROTC is just one of three tracks of the National Service Training Program- the civic education and defense program dedicated for college students. Based on a study undertaken in 2015 (by Liveta), only 14% of NSTP enrollees opt for the ROTC track. This is indicative of the youth's detachment from the concept of military service. This attitude needs to be rectified, and the revival of the ROTC Program will help increase the youth’s appreciation of military service in nation-building.
The claim of some youth groups that ROTC will lead to the spread of a 'flawed' military culture in campuses is presumptuous and assuming. In the first place, the recruitment of students in the military service is critical in ensuring that there is an adequate number of military personnel to combat threats against national security. Second, military education in campuses will dissuade students from joining organizations that support rebellion and insurgency, which are considered crimes under the Revised Penal Code. As long as the program does not violate the students' rights to expression and assembly, there is no reason to go against mandatory ROTC in promoting responsible citizenship and civic consciousness.
Several corrective measures have also been put in place to prohibit hazing and abuse under the program. This is mindful of the hazing incidents recorded in the 1990s and 2000s. Section 4 of the proposed bill clearly states that ROTC must not be used as a mechanism for hazing and abuse. An additional section also holds educational institutions and instructors liable for any damage or injury caused to a student during the implementation of the ROTC. However, vigilance and multi-sectoral participation is necessary in the development of the revised ROTC Program’s IRR to prevent any forms and violence in its implementation, and ensure certainty of punishment should violations occur.
Many policy and implementation reforms are desired in the ROTC Program. There may be legitimate cause for concern that many of the abuses in the past may happen once again in this new ROTC regime. However, tensions brought about by territorial disputes, terrorism and natural disasters pose a greater national concern, hence raising the need to have a steady reservist force to assist our short-handed military in their multifarious functions.
In today's world, defense to our life, liberty, property and territory is neither the police nor the military's sole responsibility. We need to have a credible self-defense capability. A well-designed ROTC program will boost our capability to protect ourselves and our country.
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