Tuesday, August 03, 2010

ROTC mandatory for males? No way!

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has publicly expressed its desire to bring back the ROTC as a required college subject for males.

Well I don't agree. It should be a required subject for females also! :-) Seriously, I don't agree with the proposal making ROTC mandatory at all. This for the following three reasons.

1) The national security environment has changed. The Republic has different threats to its security as compared to that 40 years ago. (My example to fellow ROTC alums is that before our "enemy" were the Commies across the China Sea now it is natural and man made disasters give or take a few terrorists!)

2) The AFP will have to have a more responsive training strategy and program for citizen soldiers given this new security environment.

3) The AFP is ILL EQUIPPED to train an effective citizen army more so with ROTC cadets that serve because they are required to do so.

Making ROTC mandatory defeats the whole purpose of having an effective and responsive citizen army. The Citizen Army composed of males and females, should be readily mobilizable for any national emergency. The AFP because it is ill equipped and lacks the logistics may not be able to train the citizen army effectively.

The best option is to make ROTC voluntary and attractive to young men and women and the meager resources can be directed to effectively training these patriotic young people.

But this can only be in tandem with reforming or even repealing the National Service Training and Program Law (NSTP) which in my opinion had good intentions but the application has been bad. The NSTP law directs the AFP to provide incentives for young people to take the ROTC option.

The weakness of this law is that while state colleges and universities are required to have an ROTC unit, private ones are not required to do so. They may offer ROTC if they have at least corps sized ROTC units of 350 cadets. Now having an ROTC unit entails a cost to the school, no wonder many private schools have opted out. Private universities which have an ROTC tradition (which I will discuss later on) have decided to keep theirs. In Metro Manila, some of these are UE, UST, Ateneo, FEU Adamson U and DLSU.

The AFP aside from making ROTC attractive and logistically well supported should work for an amendment of the law making it required for all colleges and universities to have an ROTC unit.

I support such a move. National defense is everyone's business. It is the obligation of each citizen to bear arms if the country is under threat of invasion.

I wholeheartedly agree with the AFP that our young people need a dose of discipline and the mindset to obey commands if these are reasonable, legal and moral.

My question is this "Is there still enough well trained NCOs and officers that are able trainors of cadets?" Training citizen soldiers requires a different tack from training professional officers in the Academy up on Fort del Pilar! In the past the University of the Philippines ROTC cadet corps could match to a large extent the training of PMA cadets and many went on to a professional military career [Most went on to successful civilian careers but carried that UP ROTC tenets of Duty, Honor and Country]. UP had good officers to teach cadets then as it still does now. But we can't say that for other schools.

ROTC cadets have died resisting the Japanese invaders in World War II. The only ROTC units which refused to disband upon orders of General MacArthur were the UP and Ateneo de Manila units. They went to Bataan many to their deaths, flying their school colors. They produced their war heroes to the glory of their universities. UP cadets have seen action in the major wars the Philippines was involved in and served under arms in the 1986 People Power Revolution. Irrespective of ideological orientation (there were ROTC cadets in the insurgencies as well as with the AFP), ROTC cadets have shown bravery.

The National Defense Act of 1935 mandated a reserve force, ROTC and set the obligation of citizens to defend the Philippines. This is the first law the Philippines passed showing its sovereign powers even if under the United States then.

In 2012 the ROTC celebrates its centennial in the Philippines with rites marking the formation of the UP ROTC unit.

President Benigno S Aquino III called for a passage of a new National Defense Act in his first SONA. When the Executive sends to Congress a draft of this law, citizens must ensure that a proper citizens army can be trained and equipped and made responsive to our present national security concerns.


Alex NP Tamayo said...

Nice article and thanks for highlighting the contributions of ROTC units in defending the freedom we now enjoy. While I also prefer ROTC to be voluntary, the changed security environment is not actually a valid reason to have a poorly trained citizenry. God forbid that the moment that we think that we don't need to defend ourselves will be the time that we should be challenged to do so.

Additionally while "now it is natural and man made disasters" that is our main concern, how do we address this? ROTC, particularly UP ROTC is now geared towards training cadets to respond to such environment and for them to be equipped with life saving skills that will benefit themselves and other people. The question now is how do we make the majority of our able-bodied citizenry similarly trained and equipped without mandating ROTC. Sadly, there is no other option.

The best way to do it? Revise the NSTP in such a way as to make ROTC a "basic" component of the program. This means that all able bodied male and female college students should undergo ROTC training first, focusing on discipline, patriotism, disaster preparedness and life saving skills for 1 year. After ROTC, they can then proceed to their preferred NSTP discipline.

Ben Vallejo said...

First we have to have all schools to have an ROTC unit.

Also ROTC can be made a basic component of the NSTP. Some state Us implement this.