FILE PHOTO. Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) cadets practice their drills at the UST field during a training.

Student council officials condemned the proposed mandatory military service and compulsory enrollment in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) of some politicians running in the 2022 elections.

In a statement released on Monday, Jan. 31, the UST Central Student Council (CSC) and college councils said mandatory military enlistment would promote “blind obedience and subservience, not patriotism and nationalism.”

The government should focus on educating Filipinos to instill a sense of nationalism and patriotism by intellectualizing the Filipino language and literature and implementing mandatory subjects like Philippine history in high school and Philippine politics and governance in college, they said.

“The spirit of patriotism and nationalism, along with discipline, is not cultivated through blind marches under the scorching sun nor through tutorials on handling guns, but through long-term education plans that seek to solve our societal problems,” the statement read.

The student leaders claimed that mandatory ROTC became a “pit of violence and corruption” when it was in effect.

Citing a report by the National Union of Students in the Philippines, they also said multiple cases of “abhorrent actions” such as red-tagging, assault of democratic rights, surveillance, abuses and hazing remained rampant in ROTC units nationwide.

Following the death of Mark Welson Chua, a Thomasian who exposed corruption in the ROTC-UST unit in 2001, Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001 was signed into law, abolishing the mandatory ROTC program.

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College students are now allowed to choose any of the three National Service Training Program components: ROTC, Literacy Training Service, and Civil Welfare Service.

Debates over the mandatory ROTC and military service in the Philippines resurfaced after vice presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said that she would push mandatory military service among Filipinos aged 18 and above should she win in the 2022 elections.

Her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, had called for the revival of the mandatory ROTC. Justin Benedict T. Lim


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