MANILA- Seven service academies will showcase their military discipline at the first Presidential Silent Drill competition on Friday in a bid to boost support for the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.
The competition, a brainchild of President Rodrigo Duterte, will be held at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, said Presidential Security Group chief Brig. Gen. Jose Niembra.
"Hopefully, this will awaken the interest of our people in our ROTC program," Niembra told reporters.
"Ang gusto natin idevelop dito ay readiness for any eventuality, hindi lamang giyera," he added.
(We want to develop the youth's readiness for any eventuality, not just wars.)
Duterte has repeatedly called for the revival of the mandatory ROTC program, saying it would prepare young Filipinos to defend the Philippines during wartime.
Making ROTC mandatory for students would help them become "more responsible," Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, Brig. Gen Royland Orquia said.
"ROTC exemplifies discipline and professionalism," he said.
Schools that will participate in Friday's competition are the Philippine Air Force Officer Candidate School, Philippine Army Officer Candidate School, Philippine Merchant Marine Academy, Philippine Military Academy, Philippine Navy Officer Candidate School, Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific, and the Philippine National Police Academy.
Duterte will award the winning platoon with P300,000, the first runner-up with P200,000, and the 2nd runner-up with P100,000.
Other participating schools meanwhile will take home P50,000 each.
The ROTC, mandatory military training in college, was made optional in 2002 following a controversy that resulted in the death of University of Santo Tomas student Mark Chua.
He was allegedly slain by course officers after exposing fund mismanagement.
The military has lamented that the country's reserve force drastically went down when the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Law was passed in 2001.
At present, ROTC is one of the three components of the NSTP, along with Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) and Literacy Training Service (LTS).