MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday welcomed the proposal of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to reinstitute mandatory military training for senior high school students.
According to AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is part of the military's reserve force development program.
"It instills upon individuals the discipline and physical traits required to perform the challenging tasks of protecting the people and the state from all threats, natural or man-made," he said in a statement.
"Risking one's life to save others is part of the value system inculcated in the training," he added.
The ROTC was made optional in 2002 following the controversial death of Mark Chua, a University of Santo Tomas student who was allegedly killed by fellow cadet officers for exposing corruption in the program.
ROTC is now 1 of the 3 components of the National Service Training Program, along with Civic Welfare Training Service and Literacy Training Service.
Currently, military service in the Philippines is voluntary. However, Article 2, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution provides for the possibility of conscription.
"Improvements have already been introduced to correct the mistakes of the long past," Aguilar said.
In his first State of the Nation Address, Marcos said ROTC should become mandatory for Grades 11 and 12 students in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions.
"The aim is to motivate, train, organize and mobilize students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations," he said, citing the proposal as among his priority measures.
But Sen. Risa Hontiveros opposed such measure, saying there are other ways for the Filipino youth to serve their country.
"Ito'y isang programa mula sa nakaraan na napatunayan hindi iyon ang optimal kasi iyong mga kabataan natin, may iba't ibang paraan para mahalin at magsilbi kay inang bayan," she said Monday.