MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, June 4, suggested that it would be better if the military training would be mandatory not just for Grades 11 and 12 students but also for all "able-bodied" Filipinos.
The proposal was made just a day after President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the Senate bill requiring students in Grades 11 and 12 to undergo the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program.
In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained that compulsory military service would improve the country's defense capabilities.
"Alam niyo, in other countries, mandatory 'yun. Dapat talaga mandatory (You know, in other countries, military training is mandatory. It should really be mandatory)," the Palace official said.
"I share the view that all citizens, able-bodied citizens of the Philippines, male or kahit na (even) female, should be required to have compulsory military training for our own security. Pagdating ng panahon, para marunong tayo. Para sa ating lahat 'yun (Time will come when we can secure ourselved. It's for our own good," he added.
ROTC used to be mandatory, but was made optiional for college students in 2001, following the death of University of Santo Tomas student and cadet Mark Chua, who revealed supposed corruption in the university's military training program.
Following Chua's revelation, his body, wrapped in a carpet, was found floating in the Pasig River.
A Manila court ruled in 2004 that ROTC cadet Arnufo Aparri Jr. was guilty of killing Chua.
For Duterte, the revival of mandatory ROTC among the youth would "invigorate their sense of nationalism and patriotism necessary in defending the State and further promote their vital role in nation-building."
Panelo likewise believed that making ROTC mandatory would instill discipline among young Filipinos, who he said seemed to have lack concentration because of advanced technology.
"When I was in college I underwent Reserved Officers Training Corps. You're taught there how to handle firearms, how to have discipline, you're lectured on many things even on laws, even on history," he said.
"Because of the onset of technology, parang concentration lahat puro sa high-tech instruments like telephone, laptop at kung anu-ano pa (the concentration is now on high-tech instruments like telephone and laptop, among others). Parang hindi, kulang na, wala ng disiplina (So it seems like the youth lack discipline)," Panelo added. (SunStar Philippines)