“It is therefore essential to ensure that the new ROTC program of instructions meet the minimum standard of what military training should be”
It seems there is no stopping the revival of the ROTC program.
It is no longer just Vice President Sara Duterte Carpio who wants it but PBBM as well.
What remains is simply the knots and bolts of its implementation.
For instance, should it be with the 11th and 12th grades or the first and second year college students?
Will the military training that will be given similar to the old ROTC program of a generation or two ago?
In that old program, we had the basic two-year program for first and second year college students and the two-year advance course for third and fourth year students who wanted to become officers in the Armed Forces.
Also, the two-year basic course required students to pay for the enrolment to earn 1.5 units per semester, not to mention the fact that students had to provide their own uniforms.
During our time, we trained with real firearms.
Later, however, ROTC cadets were made to train with wooden firearm replicas because all the real firearms were recalled by the AFP which, for all intents and purposes, was short of what military training should be.
If this is what will happen to the new ROTC program, we will have a reserve force whose military training will undoubtedly be questionable.
Training with wooden replicas will hardly qualify ROTC graduates to be able to fight as soldiers in a shooting war.
It is therefore essential to ensure that the new ROTC program of instructions meet the minimum standard of what military training should be.
The ROTC program was just one source of our military reserve.
The other was the call up of selected 21-year-olds, usually by lottery for military training by the AFP for 18 months.
This, unfortunately, was also discontinued years ago and, at present, we do not actually have a trained pool to source our reserve force that can be activated in case of emergency.
We will simply have to rely on our regular standing force. There is, therefore, another option in addition to ROTC.
The way things stand, it seems the government prefers to revive the ROTC program because nothing is being mentioned about the 21-year-olds and I am surprised the AFP has not brought this out at all.
Is it possible that AFP planners have forgotten this old program?
All current media reports indicate the ROTC proponents want to inject other disciplines like teaching patriotism and disaster response.
If we still have to teach our young citizens patriotism when they reach 16 or 17, then our entire educational system is a total failure.
Patriotism is supposed to be taught in earlier grades especially in civics.
It is also wrong for schools to have the flag raising ceremony on Mondays only.
We used to do it every day with the singing of the national anthem and the recitation of the pledge of allegiance.
This country is in trouble if our young citizens will still have to be taught love of country in senior high.
We have to remember that ROTC is first and foremost a military training program.
Disaster response comes with the discipline and regimentation acquired while undergoing ROTC training.
To those who are objecting to the resurrection of the ROTC, we have to bear in mind that the primary duty of every citizen is to fight and defend the country in times of war.
All others are considered secondary. It is, therefore, shocking to read some of the reactions of those who are opposing the revival of the program.
One House member even said the ROTC program is simply a ploy by the government for the military to infiltrate the schools.
One of the issues that must be settled is whether the program will be for 11th and 12th graders or 1st and 2nd year college students.
For the sake of continuity, it is probably preferable for ROTC to be taken in college.
This way, those who complete the basic and want to take the advance course to become officers in the AFP will not have to wait for two years to apply. It is also better to train more mature students.
Another issue that must also be resolved is whether to train with real firearms or wooden replicas. This is important because it affects the quality of the reserve force that will be formed.
Our leaders are all apparently banking on the ROTC program for the bulk of our reserve force.
Prudence, however, tells us that we should not abandon the calling of selected 21-year-olds to train for 18 months to form part of our ready military reserve.
Regardless of the merits of an ROTC revival – to which I quite agree, being a product of the four-year ROTC program and a former ROTC Commandant – let us not put all our marbles in one basket.