Mixed reactions to Marcos’ proposed return of mandatory ROTC

July 25, 2022 - 6:31 PM
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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25, 2022. (OPS/PCOO)

Mandatory ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) is among President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s priority bills.

During his first State of the Nation Address, Marcos said that the ROTC and National Service Training Program (NSTP) would “reinstitute the mandatory component of senior high school programs including Grades 11 and 12 in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions.”

He said this would “motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations. 

RELATED: Marcos includes return of mandatory ROTC in legislative agenda

Last June, Vice President and Education secretary Sara Duterte said that she hoped that the mandatory ROTC would be one of Marcos’ priority legislative agendas.

READ: Sara Duterte urged to respond to education crisis over mandatory ROTC focus

How public reacted

Filipino online users have varying reactions concerning Marcos’ pronouncement.

Some of them disagree with the president.

“There are other ways to express our love for our country that can be done WITHOUT this abusive program. Also, the country has very limited resources in providing support for the students. In other words, WE CANNOT AFFORD THIS, since we are still under a pandemic,” a Twitter user said.

“Senior high school students are already struggling and even barely survive senior high school. Why prioritize passing a Mandatory ROTC Bill? The country is having an [a]cademic crisis, you think that will solve it all,” a Filipino user asked.

“ROTC was never about preparing individuals for “disaster”. It [ is] about breeding a culture of impunity, violence, and blind obedience. You want the youth to learn how to serve? The answer isn’t institutionalizing ROTC. Forward a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education,” another suggested.

Meanwhile, some Filipinos find the mandatory ROTC beneficial but have some suggestions.

“Yes to this but no abuse of power to those officers,” A Facebook user said.

“No bad faith with this decision pero dapat siguraduhin na FAIR sa lahat, be it anak ng politicians, millionaires/billionaires, celebrities at kung sino pang maimpluwensyang tao,” another said.

“Better for [the] government to find ways and means to fund the ROTC training [expenses] to be incurred during the training period. To avoid the corrupt practices that caused the suspension of the program earlier,” another Filipino online user suggested.

Why ROTC is optional

ROTC became optional after the killing of cadet Mark Welson Chua, a student from the University of Santo Tomas who exposed the injustices and corruption of his officers in his school’s military program.

All male and female students enrolled in any baccalaureate, or at least two-year technical or vocational courses must be offered ROTC and either of the Literacy Training Service (LTS) or Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) in a two-semester period, according to the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001.

It is up to Congress whether they will act upon the calls of both Marcos and Duterte to revive the mandatory ROTC.

So far, Marcos has formed alliances within the lower house and the Senate. Newly elected Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri is his ally, and House speaker Martin Romualdes is his cousin.