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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte urged, “Let us strengthen our ROTC Program to instill love of country and good citizenship”. The Congress and the Senate must now heed the call of the new Administration. It must be appraised of the very same complaints, ideologues and parties resistant to the restoration of mandatory ROTC in all colleges and universities, private or State administered, to move forward.
My good friend, the late Welson Chua, father of the murdered UST ROTC Cadet Mark Chua, in the Senate Defense Hearing once chaired by Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said, “I plead with everyone to spare the institution. Please help me restore it to its former glory when it used to be a proud institution that gave us men ready to defend their country if it was ever necessary. It is time to claim it back. This is my son’s heart.” The hurdle for ‘Mandatory ROTC’ remains in the profit motive of private/religious school administrators salivating to own the ROTC funds and the baseless “leftist rant” of militarization in the campus citing the AFP’s role in the country’s martial law experience. They avoid the fact-check of history e.g. of 10 battalions sent to Bataan, eight were Reservist; ROTC Hunters kept the guerilla war alive, and the 1897 Revolution legacy/timeline of the Philippine Army etc.
Why the Philippines require mandatory ROTC? The answer is in the phenomenon of ‘Geography and History’. Simply, the accident of territorial location, neighboring countries etc. and what a people decides to do with their nationhood?
Example – How many soldiers does Canada, 2nd largest country in the world have? 50,000-70,000 with 30,000 primary reservists. They can afford a bare minimum to protect a 9.6M sq. km. area because they are under the wide defense umbrella of the United States of America. How about New Zealand which has slightly a lesser territory than the Philippines? They have 4,539 Regular Troops and only 1,569 Reservist! Why? (next Saturday) (Erik Espina)