REFLECTIONS ON ROTC : LESSONS FROM THE PAST

BGEN (Ret). ELISEO M. RIO, JR.

The presentation will include a brief background on the beginnings of ROTC in the Philippines with the first official ROTC unit established in the University of the Philippines in 1922. Further historical accounts on ROTC will be tackled including the involvement of ROTC units during World War II and how these troops played a significant part in Philippine history.

Furthermore, several presidential decrees will be discussed in relation to ROTC which includes President Ferdinand Marcos’ promulgation of Executive Order No. 59 making ROTC mandatory at all colleges, universities and other institutions with an enrolment of 250 male students and greater; Presidential Decree No. 1706 or "National Service Law" in 1980, making national service obligatory for all Filipino citizens; and Republic Act 7077 or the "Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act", providing for reservists referred to as "Citizen Soldiers".

The death of a student from University of Sto. Tomas set off an explosion of anti-ROTC sentiment. This incident served as a catalyst for reform which brought about Republic Act 9163, otherwise known as the "National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001". The RA obliged collegiate students to undergo one of three program components, one of which is ROTC, for an academic period of two semesters. ROTC as a pre-requisite for graduation was rescinded.

The presentation will conclude with a preview of the current state of affairs in the Philippines revealing a weak Armed Forces, lacking in both man-power and military equipment. Lastly, the implications on the approval of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for the revival of mandatory ROTC training for all Senior High School students last February 2017 will be discussed.