As early as September, 2016, new President Duterte called for the revival of the citizenship training program known as Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) which used to be a requirement in the freshman and sophomore years in all colleges in the country, until some unfortunate incidents led to its end in 2001.
He reiterated his call before the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and then at the Palarong Pambansa opening ceremonies last April. The ROTC program, he said, could be incorporated in the curriculum of senior high school students – Grades 11 and 12 – in the coming school year.
Bills have now been filed in the Senate by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and in the House of Representatives by former President, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for a Citizens Service Training Corps (CSTC) in all public and private colleges and universities in the country, mandatory for all baccalaureate degree and vocational students.
The new CSTC is the old ROTC but expanded so it will not be merely to train students to defend the country against external aggression but also to assist in maintaining peace and order in emergencies, including typhoons and other calamities.
In filing her HB 5305, Congresswoman Arroyo said it seeks “to establish a framework for the training and mobilization of our youth and implements the constitutional vision of drawing them into the mainstream of national life by providing avenues for their participation in public and civic affairs.”
Before that unfortunate incident in 2001 – the death of an ROTC student — generations of Filipinos underwent two years of ROTC training in colleges and universities all over the Philippines, with many ROTC officers ultimately becoming officers in the Armed Forces and the National Police.
The great majority of ROTC students were ordinary college students pursuing degrees in law, in medicine, in engineering, in science, in hundreds of other college courses, which ultimately became their professions. But they also value those first two years of their campus life when, with other freshmen and sophomores from various other courses and fields, they marched together on the parade grounds, learned to follow orders, imbibed discipline, and readied themselves should there be a sudden need for their services.
The CSTC bill should be quickly enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Duterte so we can again begin to organize the nationwide corps of young Filipinos – the Citizens Service Corps — who can be quickly mobilized, not necessarily for military action, but for assistance in other emergencies.