QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Col Roland Rodil, AFP chief reservist is not in favor of the four house bills on mandatory ROTC restoration, saying legislations should focus more on support for the program.
“If you enhance the ROTC program, we no longer have to [force] them (students) to enlist,” Rodil said in an interview.
He explained the implications of re-mandating the program among students that are 18 to 25 years old, saying cadets will be abused helplessly.
“Kahit anong abuso, bugbog, paaraw mo sa kanila, kailangan nilang tapusin yan (ROTC). Wala silang magagawa kundi pumasok sa training,” Rodil said.
Mandatory ROTC was abolished in 2002 when congress passed R.A. 9163 that made ROTC among the three options (CWTS and LTS being the other two) for college students’ graduation requirements.
Four House Bills calling for the amendment of R.A. 9163 (NSTP Law) and the restoration of mandatory ROTC training were referred to the House Committee on National Defense and Security and is still pending there since July 23, 2013.
The authors of the said bills are Representatives Gerald Abaya (H.B. No. 144), Rodolfo Biazon (H.B. No. 522), Erico Aumentado (H.B. No. 1720) and Sherwin Gatchalian (H.B. No. 5338), all of whom promotes mandatory ROTC.
Contemporaneous improvement, not force
Rodil urges the Congressmen to focus their legislations in supporting the ROTC program’s improvement and not by forcing students to enlist.
“If I were those legislators, I would file a bill that makes our program viable and not one that defiles the students’s freedom of choice,” Rodil contended.
Rodil, in comparison to other countries that do not require adults to enlist for ROTC, said that the Philippines can have well-trained reserves without forcing them into the Armed Forces’s manpower.
“The United States does not mandate ROTC training, but they have efficient allocation for resources in the training program–they are now known as a superpower,” Rodil stated.
He also added that legislative support on the program will have a better reception from students.
“Allocate funds, give away incentives to students, provide better resources without forcing students to enlist and you will have your bill passed,” Rodil assured.
Corruption and Abuse
Rodil pointed out that one of the main issues that delayed the bills’s passing is the resistance among students.
“Such resistance will not buy them enough votes for the bill to be passed,” Rodil stated, explaining that its passing will only generate more issues against the government.
According to Philippine Collegian’s news report on the re-mandating of ROTC, League of Filipino Students (LFS) national chairperson Terry Ridon denounced the said bills, saying the revival of mandatory ROTC program will also reinstate corruption and physical abuse that led to the abolition of the course more than a decade ago.
“ROTC as an institution is the problem, not merely the persons running it,” Ridon said in a statement.
Rodil, also a former commandant of the UP Diliman’s Department of Military Science and Tactics addressed the UP-LFS’s denouncement of the ROTC bills, saying student organizations should not be the only ones aware of the existence of the bills.
“There is also a problem among students, kaunti lang ang nakakaalam na may chance na maisabak sila sa unjustifiable training na wala silang magagawa kundi pasukan,” Rodil expressing dismay over the deficit of awareness.
Shortage on resources
Aside from external challenges on the bills’s passing, Rodil also addressed the deficiencies of ROTC as a program today.
“If we really take ROTC seriously, we should then address the shortages of resources and the mediocrity of the training program,” Rodil expressed.
He expounded on the ROTC units’s shortages on training rifles, ammunition, official uniforms for cadets, among other ‘vital’ training resources that the government cannot provide.
“Kung mandatory at walang resource, ‘edi hindi puwersa ang dinagdag natin, [ang dinagdag natin] puro pang disaster management, taga linis ng sewer at mga puro papicture nalang sa mga tangke,” Rodil exclaimed.
Free ROTC training
Rodil also pointed out that students pay too much for the NSTP fees, saying ROTC training should be free.
“Students should not pay for the training given na yung gobyerno naman ang makikinabang sa pagte-train nila,” Rodil asserted.
He added that the government should also subsidize all expenses in private institutions, saying the students are paying the school for education, not military training.
“The ROTC cadets should not pay the school because it is not the school who will benefit from the program,” Rodil explained.
According to Col Rodil’s thesis on transforming ROTC’s program, the average payment for ROTC fees range from PhP 2,000 to 3,000–not inclusive of the uniforms and field training fees.
Better program as a leverage to West PH sea claims
Col Rodil also said that improving the ROTC program without forcing students to enlist will raise our stakes over the West Philippine Sea disputes against China.
“You will have more competent cadets, because they will be willing and their training is considerably threatening to challengers of our national safety,” Rodil asserted.
But Rodil also added that given our program’s deficiency on proper training and resources, there might be ‘massive deaths’ among cadets when war comes.
“Madami ka ngang reserba, wala namang sapat na training, the government should never put their men in harm’s way knowing na massacre ang mangyayari,” Rodil argued.
The only problem remaining
The AFP reservist also stated that mandating ROTC enlistment will only raise many issues against the government, even saying it was a “mistake” to mandate in in the first place.
“Although I am a product of the mandatory ROTC era, I still think students should be free from physical and emotional abuse,” Rodil said.
Rodil also said that if students are encouraged through a better program with scholarships and enough training resources, the government and the Armed Forces no longer needs to force recruitment.
“The only problem that we will have is we cannot accept cadets anymore because of the growing number of enlisters,” Rodil claimed. Neil Jayson Servallos