When Filipinos hear the term “ROTC” or The Reserve Officers Training Corps, they immediately link this to physical abuse and human rights violations among its students. We cannot blame them. There have been several controversies and instances wherein ROTC cadets were involved in injuries and even untimely deaths. But there is no greater time to remind the Filipino people, especially the youth, of the history and the purpose of the ROTC, and its revival under the term of President Marcos.

In South Korea, to maintain a ready fighting force, all men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve at least 18 months of military service. This is true even for artists and famous members of boyband groups such as Super Junior and BTS. Because of their strong sense of nationalism, they willingly accept this order. Filipinos would often be saddened if their korean crush would suddenly enter this training and be gone for a while. However, this military training brings pride and joy to South Koreans, showing the world how their citizens could readily respond to the call of service.

In an article written by Senator Francis Tolentino in the Manila Bulletin, he simply discussed “The Reserve Officers Training Corps. (ROTC) is a program designed to provide military training to tertiary level students with the aim of preparing the country’s national defense.” The ROTC aims to train and prepare Filipinos not only in basic military combat and skills, but also in harnessing their spirit of nationalism and patriotism.

Senator Tolentino continues, “It is the policy of the State to maintain a standing or regular military force in times of peace, which can be rapidly expanded by the well-disciplined citizen armed force in the event of war, invasion, or rebellion. For those unfamiliar with the ROTC since it was made no longer mandatory in 2001, the program required tertiary level students to undergo military training and were considered reservists.”

“Reservists, alternatively referred to as citizen soldiers, are those who are incorporated into the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This means that in the event of a war, invasion, or rebellion, reservists are called to serve and participate in safeguarding the security of the state and assisting in socioeconomic development. The purpose of the military training is to ensure their readiness to immediately respond to the call to service.”

Now, despite the numerous controversies surrounding the ROTC, Vice-President elect Sarah Duterte aims for the ROTC revival saying that “Gagamitin ko ang aking opisina (I will use my office) — Office of the Vice President — para kausapin ang ating (to talk to our) Congress and the Senate of the Philippines to make military service for all 18 years old, male and female, mandatory in our country,”. This only shows the dedication of the new administration into strengthening nationalism among the Filipino youth.

At Mustaqim, we also aim to encourage all Filipino citizens to exemplify courage and bravery especially in times of need. The ROTC is an important step to building a sense of pride and Filipino nationalism. The ROTC would enlighten the youth and teach them life skills that they would need in the future.