Nationalism cannot be legislated nor students can forced to become reservist-soldiers, neophyte Senator Imee Marcos said on Sunday.
In a radio interview, Marcos said ROTC should be a college option rather than a mandatory requirement for graduation.
ROTC was made mandatory by her father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, through an executive order, but rescinded the same after more than a decade after realizing that mandatory reservist training does not instill nationalism among the youth.
“So ROTC was no longer mandatory —this was made an option because you cannot force someone to be a soldier. You cannot order one to love his country,” the senator said.
She noted that total absence of community service subjects in the ROTC curriculum and its very name alone make it an “overtly military” program.
Marcos also cited the absence of a follow-up retraining program similar to that in South Korea or Singapore that would upgrade the skills of ROTC cadets after completing their basic education.
Military officials pushing to revive the ROTC program in high school, she said, were merely paying “lip service” to the program’s stated civilian goals of encouraging civic consciousness among the youth and voluntary service to the community.
However, Marcos clarified that she was not against ROTC because she prescribed it as an option for college students in Senate Bill No. 413, which also offered incentives of free health and life insurance to all ROTC student participants plus stipend for ROTC officers.
Senator Francis Tolentino, for his part, wants the inclusion of military and police training in the mandatory ROTC in a bid to “rekindle national pride and patriotism” among students.
“Young Filipinos should understand that they have the duty to defend their country not only from threats to national security but as well as from threats to human life brought about by calamities, disasters, crises, and emergencies,” he said in his proposed Senate Bill No. 212.
What sets Tolentino’s version apart from other similar proposed bills pending in the legislative department is the inclusion of police training which will enable young Filipinos to provide assistance as volunteers for traffic management, relief operations, environmental preservation activities, and other civic operations.