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Duterte admits not finishing ROTC course

(The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – If you haven’t completed your Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) requirement, don’t despair.

Even President Duterte, commander-in-chief of the 125,000 strong Armed Forces, admitted that he did not finish the course, which used to be mandatory for college students.

“You know I am not from the military. I did not even finish ROTC but I’m not into delays. Let’s be frank. I don’t want delays and corruption,” he told soldiers during his visit to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in Quezon City last Tuesday.

Duterte is pushing for the revival of mandatory service to the ROTC program, believing this would promote patriotism and keep the youth away from drugs. 

He expressed support for the mandatory military training during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang last Tuesday.

“It’s interesting what was mentioned, especially the President’s comment regarding ROTC. How it’s going to help in the building up of discipline and values, especially in this generation, and how we expect ROTC to be able to help build a sense of patriotism among the next generation,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said. 

Efforts to push for the revival of mandatory ROTC are now being discussed, Abella added.  

ROTC is one of three components of the National Service Training Program (NSTP).  Other courses offered are Civic Welfare Training Service, which deals with community programs, and the Literacy Training Service, which seeks to provide basic skills to public school pupils.

The mandatory ROTC program was abolished after then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the NSTP law in 2002. Congress passed the measure following the murder of Mark Chua, a University of Santo Tomas student who bared irregularities in his ROTC unit. 

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in an earlier interview that the executive would ask allies in Congress to file a bill that would revive the mandatory ROTC program.

Youth group Anakbayan, however, has thumbed down the proposal.

Anakbayan national chairman Vencer Crisostomo said they would wage a strong campaign against the proposal because ROTC is an abusive and burdensome program.

The youth leader noted that ROTC has a tainted record of stimulating power-tripping, corruption, hazing and mindless violence. It would also mean additional fees and more burden to students.

“ROTC should be abolished, not made mandatory. The program has never instilled nationalism, social responsibility or discipline. It is a training ground for fascist repression and corruption,” Crisostomo said.               

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