“Every Filipino has a role to play in defending Philippine sovereignty.”
These were the words of Valenzuela City Representative Win Gatchalian as he signified his intent to pursue a commission in the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Force (AFPRF) at a briefing held at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
At the AFPRF Development Briefing, sponsored by the Magdalo Para sa Pilipino party-list and the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, House members were oriented about the vision, mission, and current state of the reservist force.
Legislators were also invited to apply for a commission in the reserve force. Under Sec. 44 of Republic Act No. 7077, the “Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act,” elected officials and presidential appointees may be commissioned into the Reserve Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, or its equivalent, in the various military services.
“This is the perfect way for me to show my strong support for reinstating mandatory reserve officer training in colleges and universities. Every responsible citizen should be ready and willing to serve and defend our country in times of war and national emergency, no matter what their position or station in life. Required reservist training is one of the best ways to ensure that we are always ready,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian also commended the strong statement of House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, Jr., who delivered a short message at the event. Belmonte said that he had made it a point to attend the event in order to put on record his support for strengthening the reservist force and re-institutionalizing mandatory ROTC.
Gatchalian is the principal author of House Bill No. 2338, a measure which seeks to require students enrolled in colleges, universities, and technical-vocational schools to complete a two-year military and civic training program before graduation.
“With Speaker Belmonte’s support for mandatory ROTC now officially on record, I am hopeful that we will be able to pass this bill by the end of the 16th Congress,” said Gatchalian.
A member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Gatchalian said that building a stronger reservist force is a critical step toward strengthening the country’s defense capabilities in response to China’s consistently aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.
“In addition to aggressively pursuing international arbitration and other remedies in international law and diplomacy, we must fully modernize our armed forces and meet the manpower levels required for build a formidable military. Veiled threats and belligerent actions which degrade Philippine sovereignty will not be taken lying down,” said Gatchalian. (Aureli Sinsuat)