ROTC needed as reservists down to just 70,000 – DND

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he and allies in Congress are asking President Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed laws requiring enrollment to Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC).

Speaking Saturday at the Grand Men Seng hotel for the Reserve Officers Legion of the Philippines, Inc. convention, Lorenzana said the controversial measure will be undergoing a major overhaul, especially with the program’s history of violence and death under abusive officials.

The ROTC, he said, aims to produce reservists who are adequately prepared to the country’s defense. “What will you call to active duty if there is no reservist?”

Before the passage of the law that made ROTC optional in 2002, there were as many as 800,000 reservists. With the implementation of the National Service Training Program, there were only 70,000. “This concerns the AFP as it affects the recruitment of officers,” he said.

Lorenzana recalled that the DND called to active duty one battalion of reservists to assist in the retaking of Marawi City as well as other services.

“They were there, they are very enthusiastic, they wanted to work. That is the attitude that we want for the reservist.”

Among the proposed overhauls involves the scheduling of classes in one entire summer instead of every weekend.

Lorenzana said that there was talk between himself and Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez, the speaker of the House of Representatives, about the proposed change in schedules.

Another major change is the integration of the K-12 program to include as part of the curriculum the mandatory enrollment to ROTC. In this program, Lorenzana said, the cadets will be introduced to preparatory military training before they enter college.

The college ROTC curriculum will be for higher military courses.

Lorenzana said he would also be pushing for the introduction of modern-day equipment in the ROTC, such as the use of M16 rifles instead of wooden replicas during drills.

“This way, the cadets will know what it is like to handle weapons,” he said.

During his days as a cadet, Lorenzana said he and his peers had to contend with either wooden replicas or old Springfield rifles.

Lorenzana added that Congress also needs to revisit the National Defense Act because there are so many provisions that are no longer practical and “needed to be amended.”

Under the proposal, the graduates of the advanced ROTC courses will be tapped to train those in senior high school. “This time, we do it right,” he said.

Among the proposed measures to require ROTC among students is House Bill 2338, or

“An Act to reinstitutionalize the mandatory military and civic reserve officers’ training corps for students in all colleges, universities, and technical or vocational schools.”

The measure was filed by then Congressman Sherwin Gatchalian as early as 2013.

The item has since been forwarded to the Committee on Higher and Technical Education, but this was only in 2013. At the Senate, Senator JV Ejercito filed Senate Bill 1131, which also requires the training program for tertiary level students.

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