TANZA, Cavite -- At least 126 cadets on Saturday participated in the Army Reserve Command's 2-day action-packed challenge as the Philippine military continues to promote the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program among the youth.
Brig. Gen. Royland Orquia, assistant deputy chief of staff for Reservist Retiree Affairs, clarified that the ROTC program is not necessarily meant for the youth to be part of military force but to develop discipline and practical skills, including humanitarian response and disaster assistance.
Proposals to revive the mandatory ROTC program for students have faced resistance from several sectors, which have warned that it can become a hotbed for abuse.
"Hindi lang naga-ROTC ka dahil you are preparing to become a military. No. You are preparing to become a better person, a better leader," Orquia said.
"Ang disiplina kasi, it encompasses everything: Disiplina sa sarili mong buhay, sa trabaho, sa pamilya, sa pagsunod sa batas natin."
Designed to enhance the ROTC program in developing a skilled, robust and responsive Armed Forces of the Philippines reserve force, the ROTC challenge was conducted at Camp Riego de Dios in Tanza, Cavite.
It was joined by ROTC cadets from the Philippine Army, Air Force, and Navy, the Philippine Military Academy, the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy, the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific, and Major Services Officer Candidate Schools.
"This is to promote camaraderie... Most of all, it will enhance their patriotism, nationalism, and their service to our country," Orquia said.
Army student officer Jervin Lebrilla and Naval ROTC cadet Ramellah Mangino said there were a lot of misconceptions about ROTC.
"Sa unit ko naman, wala namang nangyayaring ganon (abuses). Depende lang 'yun sa humahawak o mga lider nila, kung paano i-handle 'yung mga tao nila. Kasi kung namulat na ganon, susundin 'yun. Pero kung tama 'yung sinusunod mo, susundin mo rin 'yung tama, " Lebrilla said.
Mangino added: "Pagdating sa ROTC, hindi ka lang physically tine-train, also mentally, spiritually and socially because naniniwala kami na hindi ka puwedeng gumalaw mag-isa kasi sabi nga nila, ang tingting, hindi gumagalaw na mag-isa lang."
Nineteen-year-old Mangino urged other students to undergo ROTC training.
"Noong hindi pa ako pumapasok ng ROTC training, napansin ko na hindi ganon kadisiplina 'yung ugali ko and then nu'ng nag-undergo ako ng ROTC training sa TUP Cavite, na-enhance 'yung time management ko... at nag-result sa academic awardee ako," she said.