ROTC: Training The Youth For A Progressive Nation
By Marciano Paroy Jr.
Change…We are treated to the same myriad pronouncements of solutions from thinkers who propose them out of the vain desire to catch attention. They demand this! They demand that! Remove him! Oust her!
Change…We are bombarded from all sides with abstractions that actually signify nothing. Proposals. Plans. All grandiose. Yet all self-serving.
Change…I pose this query before us today: what kind of change? And who shall initiate such change?
One side glance into the statistics of our nation and we are immediately confronted by how many young people are lost from the society and instead become un-productive and indifferent to the overall development efforts of the nation. The youth, as a tender receiver of anything new, would simply glide along with what is offered to be good – and presto! They end up as societal problems that do not only break the law, but do everything to mock the law.
Values go down the drain, parental authority is disregarded, and even schools become breeding ground for apathetic young individuals.
Clearly, this necessitates a more intense re-infusion of leadership contributory to the molding of highly accomplished leaders that shaped the history of this nation. This necessitates the stepping-in of the kind of training that would transform the mindset of young individuals so that they may become builders of this nation.
ROTC steps in to make a meaningful difference.
Since its mandatory establishment in 1967 through Executive Order No.59 by the former President Ferdinand Marcos, the Reserved Officers Training Corps has done its share in the training of individuals who were properly imbued with the vision that they shall become leaders of the nation – and impose positive change.
The ROTC has not only been a preparatory stopover for the youth who are taught how to mount the offensive. In fact, the ROTC, along with the Armed Forces, has been channeling its energies towards community development activities. It has effectively repackaged itself as a unit which is sensitive to the needs of the society.
Look back into our history and see the quality of leaders that ROTC had trained. The ROTC cadets and graduates who fought in Bataan and Corregidor for three bloody years have turned out to become efficient leaders whom the country benefited from. And the decades can prove us that the rigid discipline and nationalistic training that cadets have been subjected to all resulted to give this nation a push towards progress.
Obviously, we need more of this training. And each young individual who enters college must pass through it. But the program, which complied with the constitutional mandate that every Filipino citizen may be conscripted into the military service, was abolished by Republic Act 9163, which made military training voluntary in 2001 and replaced it with the National Service Training Program. Critics have called the national service program a weak substitute. It does not instill in the youth the sense of national duty and patriotism that the ROTC program fosters.
May I quote the late statesman Blas F. Ople who protested the scrapping of the mandatory ROTC program. He assailed the politicians who “want to capture the sympathy of college students failing under the ROTC course” and urged President Arroyo to save the ROTC as the very core of the country’s citizen army from untimely extinction.
Last year, Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas filed House Bill 5460 seeking to restore the compulsory military training as a part of all baccalaureate courses and two-year technical or vocational courses as a requisite for graduation.
And I say that this is timely. We need to organize and mobilize students for national preparedness in the event of a national security emergency. We need to prepare a generation of young people ready to defend the country in any eventuality.
The premise is this: if the ROTC program has indeed imbued in our past leaders the level of competence that pushed them to implement reforms for the progress of the nation, shouldn’t we re-study such measures and consider a full re-entry into the original program?
If indeed we are on the pathway towards progress, then the time is now to inculcate into the young minds the heavy responsibility of nation-building. It is easy to say “progress,” but it is much harder to attain the requisites for such progress. And we refer to preparedness, we refer to training – not only in combat, but the more encompassing training for the willingness of the youth to take charge in the future and make this nation bustling with life again!
ROTC responds to the challenge.
This, while still pursuing our academic goals. This, while still full of our patriotic and nationalistic ideals. This is training. This is change.
- This piece was written for Miss Kamille Nieves Hortelano. She delivered it during the ROTC Regional Public Speaking Competition in Isabela. She placed second.