Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian said it is high time for the government to make the ROTC mandatory to all male students enrolled in colleges and universities as well as technical and vocational schools.
“Now is the opportune time to re-institutionalize the basic military and officer training for our tertiary students. By this legislation, we provide the appropriate training to ensure their readiness to respond to the call of service,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), explained his “House Bill No. 2338”, which pushes for ROTC revival is in line with the constitutional provision stating that “the Government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service.”
Through his bill, Gatchalian wants the ROTC to form part of the curriculum of all college degree and vocational courses and to be a prerequisite for graduation. Students shall be required to complete the ROTC for an academic period for two years.
Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, issued the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) protested China’s reported reclamation project on a disputed reef in the South China Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said the DFA sent a note verbale to China regarding its reported construction activities, including the building of an airstrip, on Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef last October 10.
The Philippines includes Kagitingan Reef within its territory as part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands. China, meanwhile, claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own, covering territories claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Taiwan.
Earlier, the country has filed a case against China before a United Nations arbitration tribunal concerning the territorial row.
In a recent report, it was said in the international defense publication Jane’s that satellite images taken in August and November show Chinese forces creating a land mass stretching 3,000 meters on the reef.
It is said to be China’s first military airstrip in the Spratlys aimed at asserting its sovereignty. China’s Foreign Ministry has defended the project as enabling Chinese citizens working there to “better perform international obligations in terms of search, rescue, and other public services,” the Associated Press reported.
Gatchalian said it is the duty of every citizen to safeguard the security of the State and the sovereignty of our country, especially in the light of the creeping occupation of the Kagitingan Reef by the People’s Liberation Army of China.
“Laws are replete with policies on service to countrymen, and these callings must now be instilled in our consciousness to be active in our civic duty, to prepare ourselves in case of a projected or actual need, including a possible war over the Kalayaan Group of Islands,” Gatchalian explained.
Gatchalian, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that prior to its being an optional requirement of the National Service Training Program (NSTP), ROTC graduates constitute roughly about 75 percent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers corps, and ROTC has since been the breeding ground for prominent alumni who became commanding officers of the Army, including chief of staff of the AFP.
“The ROTC program will bolster confidence in our military preparedness and capability while at the same time provides our country with the support of our student-cadet reservists and potential commissioned officers,” Gatchalian concluded. (R. Burgos)