“MY son loved this nation. Its youth and its institutions. He wanted to contribute to the welfare of our nation and our people, even if it meant giving up his own life. He dreamed of becoming this nation’s president. He wanted to change things. He said that if we expect change, someone has to start doing what was right. I dissuaded him then, but I admired him. Now, I believe him”. Words by a grieving friend, Welson Chua, father of murdered UST ROTC Cadet Mark Chua.
Previous presidents were politically swept by the too often simulated anti-military protests, spearheaded by the sclerotic shrill in school campuses, imbedded with “leftist” aplomb. President Rodrigo Duterte however, took the route less travelled, publicly supporting the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) as a mandatory course in all state universities and colleges. In contrast, I distinctly recollect my and Welson’s appeal/visit to PGMA in Malacanang, on the future of ROTC if made optional for our children. Upon invitation of the Senate Defense Committee, then chaired by Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., I made the case for “Throwing the bath water instead, and not the baby”, regarding the relevance and necessity for strengthening the national defense program, as per historical, political, legal and constitutional basis. Protection of the people is the backbone of every government’s existence. Administrative decisions, unfortunately by incumbency, takes precedence over what should be, an enduring national policy.
Just last week, the ‘Presidential Silent Drill Competition’ was successfully held in Quirino Grandstand, with the impetus of President Digong, as renewed push for ROTC. The Office of AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist Affairs was the operating unit which took charge over the contest. Perhaps in the future, this could evolve into a yearly/national contest? A Presidential ROTC Model Platoon Trophy? Or a Presidential ROTC Model Platoon Saber with medals for participants? A P500,000 peso cash incentive? Telecast over PTV-4 and IBC-13? Kudos to “Mayor” Digong and AFP!