FIRING LINE: Do you really want ROTC?


By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The push to revive the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for Filipino college students is persistent. The latest poll by Pulse Asia even indicates a majority of support for it, but it’s crucial to delve deeper into why this proposal is flawed and potentially detrimental.

Firstly, the mere statistics of public opinion do not inherently justify imposing mandatory military training on young Filipinos. It’s imperative to question the motivations behind this narrative. Who stands to benefit most from mandatory ROTC? Is it truly in the best interest of the students and the nation as a whole?

Those advocating for mandatory ROTC might benefit from reconsidering their stance. If there is such resounding support, those very proponents should be the ones to enroll in the course mandatorily. It is easy to endorse something from a distance; it’s quite another to be directly affected by it.

The tragic history associated with ROTC, such as the case of Mark Welson Chua, is very close to my heart as a Thomasian. His fatal end at the hands of misguided military training at the University of Santo Tomas painfully hurts our university pride to this day.

But it also underscores serious concerns regarding abuse, corruption, and violence within the program. Mandatory ROTC risks exposing students to similar dangers and perpetuates a culture prioritizing militarism over critical education, personal development, and social well-being.

Moreover, in a time when modernization and strategic defense are paramount, redirecting resources towards military modernization, particularly the Philippine Navy, as Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel suggests, seems far more prudent than reviving a controversial and potentially abusive program.

 Voice of the military

If there’s any sensible voice President Bongbong Marcos should listen to about the insurgency, perhaps it’s the Northern Luzon Command’s unwavering stance against rebellion. While some armchair critics may romanticize dissent as a struggle for justice, the reality is starkly different these days.

The Philippine Armed Forces’ proactive role in nation-building—especially in rural communities—represents the backbone of present-day military defense against chaos and anarchy.

In Northern Luzon, the military rejected the Communist Party of the Philippines’ latest call for the government to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front. Instead, Army Major Rigor Pamittan urged the remaining rebels to surrender, citing the communist movement’s weakened influence after recent clashes and losses.

Major General Audrey Pasia ordered troops to decisively end the insurgency while emphasizing the military’s commitment to peace and protecting civilians. The insurgency is not a distant theory but a limiting nightmare for development in the north.

The rebellion has disrupted livelihoods, spread fear, and destabilized communities. The military presence there today is no longer arbitrary but a lifeline during disasters and a partner in wiping out marijuana farms in the mountains.

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